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14 Health Related Organizations


This article is from the Genetic Diseases in Dogs FAQ, by Gary Mason.

14 Health Related Organizations

These are some of the organizations working on canine medical issues:

Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals (GDC) -- In an open
registry such as the one maintained by GDC, owners, breeders,
scientists, and veterinarians can trace the genetic history of any
particular dog. In order to control the increasing presence of genetic
diseases, we must know how prevalent such diseases are in the breed
and in any particular dog's bloodlines. The information about each dog
automatically becomes linked in the open registry with their
relatives. An open registry offers this information for the selection
of mates whose bloodlines indicate a reduced risk of producing genetic

The Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) -- This organization
specializes in examining and rating dogs with specific regard to hip

The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) -- An organization
dealing with canine diseases of the eyes.

Other organizations have embarked upon research and education programs
related to health and genetic diseases in specific breeds. Of all AKC
registered breed clubs, nearly three quarters have committees to
address health concerns in their breeds. Nearly half have a code of
ethics that includes health issues. Many breed clubs have either
formed or are investigating the formation of tax exempt foundations to
pursue health issues within their breeds.

Among the organizations implementing such health related programs are:

The Scottish Terrier Club of America (S.T.C.A.) Health Trust Fund,
which was founded in 1994 to detect and investigate health problems;
monitor health in Scottish Terriers; participate in research to
enhance the prevention of illness; develop and advocate sound breeding
practices; foster safe and healthy environments; study and share
information that promotes better health in all purebred dogs; and
promote and encourage constructive attitudes toward health concerns.
In addition, membership in the S.T.C.A. requires that a Code of Ethics
be signed which supports the issue of genetic disease elimination in
the breed.

The Cairn Terrier Club of America (CTCA). Their Committee for Health
Related Concerns surveyed club members in 1987 for the purpose of
determining the presence and frequency of genetic diseases in the
breed. They have subsequently carried out an intensive education
program, engaged the Institute for Genetic Disease Control to provide
their open registry, and produced an award winning reference manual on
Cairn Terrier genetic diseases.

The West Highland Anomaly Task Council, Inc. (WatcH), which was Formed
in the late 1980s for the purpose of understanding and controlling
genetic diseases in West Highland White Terriers. WatcH has undertaken
programs for education, information sharing, genetic counseling, and
research. They have conducted health surveys among the WHWT
population, and created a registry to track several genetic anomalies
in Westies.

The Jack Russell Terrier Club of America (JRTCA). Unlike other
registries which register entire litters at birth, each JRT
application for registration is judged on the individual terrier's own
merits. Having registered parents does not automatically guarantee
that a terrier can be registered. A terrier is not eligible for
registration until it reaches one year of age and has attained its
adult height, dentition, and other aspects considered necessary for
full maturity. Each terrier's application for registration must be
accompanied several documents, including a veterinary certificate, a
four generation pedigree, a stud service certificate, and color
photographs which support the conformation of the dogs to the club

Many projects are underway around the world in the fight against
genetic diseases in dogs. The approach taken by organizations varies
-- some are doing scientific research while others are providing
education. Here is a sampling of some of these groups:

The Dog Genome Project -- The dog genome project is attempting to map
the entire genetic makeup of the domestic dog (there is a similar
project underway for humans). The result will be a useful tool for the
entire scientific community for the purpose of isolating the genes
causing inherited diseases. It is a collaborative study involving
scientists at the University of California, the University of Oregon,
and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The dog genome project
makes all research results available to the scientific community
electronically on the World-Wide Web prior to traditional publication.

Project TEACH of the Pet Health Initiative -- Project TEACH (Training
and Education in Animal Care and Health) was formed to educate about
proper animal care and methods of genetic screening. Project TEACH is
an accreditation program for individuals. All TEACH-accredited
breeders, pet shops, rescue organizations and humane societies will
screen animals for potential problems before they are sold.

AKC Canine Health Foundation -- Established by the AKC in 1995 with a
million dollar endowment. The Foundation is intended to raise money to
support health research which will benefit dogs, and will identify
areas for research and seek qualified individuals to do the research
through its Scientific Advisory committee, concerned fanciers, the
Delegate Committee on Health Research and Health Education, and
others. Since the early 1980's, AKC has been a major funder of genetic
research to benefit dogs. The AKC was the principal funder of the work
of Dr. Donald Patterson at the University of Pennsylvania to develop
the Canine Genetic Disease Information System, a database for

Better Companion Breeders Association (BCBA) - Formerly the Better Dog
Breeders Association (B.D.B.A.). A public service agency devoted to
the protection of the buying public. They provide their service free
to the public, while providing members with special services to assist
them in operating their business.


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