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AKC Companion Animal Recovery Donates $110,000 to Fund Search and Rescue Dog Health Database

(Thursday, May 26, 2011)

-- AKC CAR Detection Dog DNA Bank to Discover What Makes SAR Dogs Great --

AKC Companion Animal Recovery recently donated $110,000 to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine as part of continuing funding of a health registry for search and rescue and other working detection dogs. This joins an initial grant of $70,000 that was awarded in 2010. The AKC CAR Detection Dog DNA Bank and Health Registry will help search and rescue organizations, law enforcement, breeders and handlers identify factors contributing to the success of these vital dogs.

Detection dogs help find lost or trapped people, human remains, explosive devices, and illicit drugs, and are used to assist human efforts during major disasters, wartime and border protection. Despite the important work these dogs do, however, there are shortages of canines able to perform detection work. Only an estimated 30% of dogs entering detection training programs are successful. Researchers expect that data gleaned from this registry will assist in breeding selection and the creation of more successful working canines.

“Search and rescue as well as detection dogs give so much to us – even recovering human lives, in some cases,” said Tom Sharp, CEO of AKC Companion Animal Recovery. “We’re pleased to support the development of this database which will track data relating to these animals so that we can ensure the success of future working dogs and keep our current canines healthy and happy.”

“We are grateful for this continued support from AKC and AKC CAR,” said Dr. Cindy Otto of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. “The working dog community will benefit from this ground-breaking and far-sighted grant to enhance the breeding, selection and training of detection dogs.”

The database is part of the recently established Penn Vet Working Dog Center. The mission of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center is to serve as a consortium for programs that employ dogs to detect threats to local, regional and national security. The overarching goal is to collect and analyze genetic, behavioral and physical data, and integrate the latest scientific information in order to optimize the success and well-being of detection dogs. In order to prepare for future demands for these dogs, the Center is developing a detection dog breeding/training program that will implement, test, and disseminate the knowledge gained.

As part of the mission of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, data to be collected includes:

  • Blood samples for DNA and serum banking for dogs trained to detect live humans, cadaver, explosives or drugs
  • Pedigrees, training information, annual behavioral assessments, annual health assessments, training certifications and updates

The Center will use this data to perform genotyping of markers throughout the canine genome in order to detect linkage between health and working traits and specific regions of the genome.

“In addition, our mission to share the knowledge available to improve the health, breeding and performance of working dogs will be actualized with the tremendous support of AKC CAR, our lead sponsor for our upcoming Penn Vet Working Dog Conference,” added Otto. “The conference, “Defining, developing and documenting success in working dogs,” will be held Sept 7-9, 2011 in Pearl River, New York in conjunction with the Finding One Another 9/11 10 year anniversary tribute (www.findingoneanother.org).”

For more information about the project, the conference or to donate please visit www.pennvetwdc.org.
For more information about AKC Companion Animal Recovery visit www.akccar.org.