AKC Companion Animal Recovery (CAR) has donated $110,000 to the University Of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine for the AKC CAR Detection Dog DNA Bank and Health Registry, for search and rescue and other detection dogs.
The database is part of the recently established Penn Vet Working Dog Center and will help search and rescue organizations, law enforcement, breeders and handlers identify factors contributing to the success of search and rescue dogs.
“Search and rescue as well as detection dogs give so much to us – even recovering human lives, in some cases,” says Tom Sharp, CEO of AKC CAR. “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.”
Detection dogs find lost or trapped people, human remains, explosive devices and drugs. The dogs are used to assist human efforts during major disasters, wartime and border protection. Only an estimated 30 percent of dogs entering detection training programs are successful. Researchers expect that data collected from the registry will assist in selecting and creating more successful working canines.
“We are grateful for this continued support from AKC and AKC CAR,” says Cindy Otto, DVM 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.”
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, cadavers, explosives or drugs
- Pedigrees, training information, annual behavioral assessments, annual health assessments, training certifications and updates
The center's plan is to use the data to perform genotyping of markers throughout the canine genome to detect linkage between health and working traits and specific regions of the genome.
“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,” Dr. Otto says. “The conference, “Defining, developing and documenting success in working dogs,” will be held Sept 7 through 9 in Pearl River, N.Y.