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Eileen Stein

ABCA Health & Education Foundation, Inc.

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At the ABCA annual membership meeting last week, formation of the ABCA Health & Education Foundation was announced. This is the culmination of an effort that has been several years in the making. Here is the informational handout that was distributed at the meeting; it explains the foundation's purpose and status. I hope it will be of interest to all of you.

 

 

Introducing the

ABCA HEALTH & EDUCATION FOUNDATION, INC.

 

 

On June 15, 2015 the American Border Collie Association's Board of Directors voted to set up a non-profit, tax-exempt foundation to enhance its services to Border Collies, their owners, and the Border Collie breed.

 

The Purpose

The foundation is intended to be the focal point for

 

· Border Collie Genetic Research

In the past, ABCA has provided financial and other types of support to research projects aimed at genetic diseases affecting the Border Collie. In the future, the foundation will be evaluating and awarding such grants. It will be better equipped to do so because as a §501( c )(3) charity, it can receive donations that will be tax-deductible to the donors, so it can draw on not only the amounts ABCA is able to contribute, but also on memorial gifts, bequests, corporate donations, proceeds from benefit trials, contributions from those particularly committed to a specific health issue, and the like. We hope it will attract advisers and volunteers from those with particular interest and expertise in health issues, and we also hope it will give us more clout to direct research toward issues that are a high priority for our breed (e.g., Early Onset Deafness).

· Evaluation and Dissemination of Health and Genetic Information
It's important that the soundest and most up-to-date information about health issues and treatment options be made easily available to Border Collie owners and breeders. This will be one of the educational functions of the foundation.

· Provision of Other More General Information about Border Collies
One of the services most frequently requested by ABCA members is help for livestock producers in learning how to obtain, train, and utilize working dogs. This would be one example of the type of general education the foundation could provide, by enlisting those who are interested in and able to furnish this valuable assistance. Basic education about the nature and needs of the breed would also benefit all border collie owners and the general public.

 

What We've Done So Far

The foundation was incorporated as of July 28, 2015, and was recently granted §501( c )(3) tax-exempt status by the IRS, retroactive to the date of incorporation. ByLaws have been adopted. We've obtained a website domain -- bordercolliefoundation.org -- which can be accessed now, but which we hope to develop into real usefulness as soon as possible. The ABCA Board appointed five initial directors (Eileen Stein, Mark Billadeau, Warren Mick, Mike Neary and Denise Wall) to serve until a larger and more geographically diverse Board can be chosen. The ABCA Board also committed to contribute $25,000 per year for the next four years to help get the foundation on a firm footing.

 

 

What We Plan to Do

One of the foundation's first priorities will be to try to reactivate the search for an Early Onset Deafness (EOD) genetic test. That test appeared to be almost in our grasp five years ago, but EOD research has been stalled since then. We hope to get the research going again by providing the money and DNA samples that are needed to take the final steps.

 

On a more fundamental level, the foundation is researching the best method for setting up a Border Collie DNA bank. From the point of view of researchers, a comprehensive DNA bank would provide the raw material needed to investigate pretty much any genetic diseases. From the point of view of Border Collie owners who would be contributing DNA to the bank, it would mean that you could provide DNA once for a dog, and it would be retained by the foundation for use in future worthwhile research projects; you wouldn't need to provide DNA from that dog again every time a new project comes along.

 

How You Can Help

Back in 2011, when the ABCA surveyed the membership for their views about setting up a health and education foundation, more than three times as many of the responding members favored the proposal as opposed it. And in a 2010 survey, members rated "health/genetic research" as the area it was most important for the ABCA to support, even above support for the sheepdog finals, with "promotion/education for farmers/ranchers" rated third. But soon we will find out how much interest and support there truly is for health and education.

 

We are not asking for your monetary support now, although there will come a time when we will (not so much for large donations, but for small ones that will show widespread support). We're asking if you'd like to be involved with the foundation. Do you have a particular interest in Border Collie health and education matters in general, or in a particular issue? Do you have expertise in genetics, veterinary medicine, science in general? How about website design and maintenance, fundraising, organizing and setting up systems, accounting/bookkeeping, researching, writing or editing articles? If you're willing to be called on for help in any of these areas, or if you have any ideas you'd like to see considered, please email one of the following, telling a little about your background and interests:

 

Eileen Stein

Mark Billadeau

Warren Mick

 

Even if you just want to express general encouragement, or ask a question, please send your email address to Eileen, so we can keep you informed as we go along. We hope that with your support the foundation will enable us to take a big step forward on behalf of our dogs.

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What wonderful news! My thanks to all involved in establishing the foundation!

 

nancy

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Excellent! I especially like that there will be a DNA bank so that a dog's samples can be used for many projects. Sadly, I had to euthanize Freya last month, who produced EOD. I worry that her samples were not used to their fullest when I submitted them for the EOD study. I wish I had been able to bank her DNA.

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I was at the meeting, and I know that everyone was very pleased to hear of this initiative and all of the other initiatives aimed at keeping the working border collie healthy. Kudos to the ABCA board for all that they do for this wonderful breed.

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I don't know if this will work ??? But here is the discussion we have been having on Facebook. Great start to trying to help the breeders keep the top working lines.

 

https://www.facebook.com/abcollie/posts/10203503705352367?comment_id=10203508713277562&reply_comment_id=10203508725477867&offset=0&total_comments=161&notif_t=feed_comment

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Most excellent news!

A

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Thank you to all who made this happen and those that will keep it going.

 

Keeping fingers crossed for quick progression on an EOD test.

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Excellent news! I hope this is just the first of many steps forward in improving information and education about the health and genetics of our breed. :)

 

~ Gloria

 

I'm sure you probably didn't mean it this way, and believe me I'm not looking for personal thanks when I point this out, but as someone who's been on the ABCA Health and Genetics Committee for two decades, I hope people realize that this is not just the "first step" forward in improving information and education about the health and genetics of our breed. Many dedicated people have been involved for many years in this endeavor, even if their efforts haven't always been in the spotlight.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Denise is right, there has been a long history of Border Collie community involvement in health and Denise has probably put more years and hours into it than anyone. For decades she has been the go-to gal. I'd also like to cite Sally Lacy who instituted eye checks at the National Finals (paid for with unused donations to the dog wars defense fund) and got us to fund the first genetic eye research done here or in the UK. We showed them brits a thing or two.

 

It never was us (scientists) against them (sheepdoggers). As pragmatists, the Border Collie community wanted to know as much as they could about our dogs. In the late 80's Amanda, Stu Ligon and I formed a committee to learn just how much PRA had affected US dogs. The ISDS was testing all its International dogs and pulling the papers of those who failed the PRA test. As a consequence, clever UK owners were selling the dogs that wouldn't pass to US buyers and although some prominent dogs had gone blind we didn't know how extensive our problem would be. But we three hadn't earned our creds. Consequently, at the (young )USBCHA meeting at the Oatlands trial (meetings hadn't been regularized) when Stu, as the VET explained what we wanted to do to- pretty much -yawns until Earnest Coggins who'd been running dogs forever stood up and said, "I put two years training a dog up and he went blind. I reckon I'd like to know more about it." Committee approved and we were off and running.

 

In my thirty years with these dogs, time and time again, the community has stood up for them. We, and our dogs, are blessed.

 

Donald McCaig

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Sorry Denise - didn't mean to diminish the work that had been done up to now. It just seems it has stalled and hoping this will produce the funds to move it forward. Everything that has been done (with no pay except hopefully helping breeders to breed sound dogs) is very much appreciated.

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No problem Candy :)

 

I was actually trying to convey that many evaluations of and support for health and genetic disease problems are going on all the time over many years with the ABCA Health and Genetics Committee and ABCA Board, even if they aren't all apparent to the membership right away. Many of these situations for research are complicated and involve many factors and careful consideration. We're trying to play the "long game," although that's sometimes hard to understand and accept when one has an immediate problem.

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I am sorry to have missed all this discussion; we have been at the Ontario trials and had limited internet access.

 

I have read through the linked Facebook discussion and I'd like to provide my thoughts on what we should be doing now on EOD while we are waiting for the researchers.

 

The study will need key dogs to isolate the gene(s) responsible for EOD out of the suspected 10 possible genes. The key dogs are suspected carriers (produced affected) and affected dogs were the status of these 10 possible genes are not all the same (we won't know until they are tested). The phenotype of these dogs (deaf by 7 years or still hearing by 7) will need to be known. DNA samples can be collected at any time; ideally BAER tests will have been performed several times up to 7 so that we know when the dog went deaf (age of onset). Having many dogs where the phenotype and age of onset (for EOD affected) are know when the researchers are ready will greatly facilitate their work; they won't have to wait on samples to trickle in since they test samples in large batches (economies of scale).

 

When samples are sent to researchers they (the institution) now own them which makes it difficult for those samples to be used in another study by other researchers. We on the H&G committee feel it would be better if the ABCA owned your samples. As long as the key dogs are still available to provide samples when the researchers are ready there is no need to send them now to just one study. If we wait till the foundation can set up our own DNA bank then your samples can more easily be used for other studies.

 

So back to EOD and what to do now. Talk about it but stick to facts not hearsay or rumors. Remember that it takes a sire and dam to produce EOD; it's not just from the sire or dam side. Those with affected dogs in your lines should BAER test periodically up to 7 years. Share information about all known and suspected genetic diseases in your lines with puppy buyers and those wanting to breed from your lines. The H&G committee will continue to support ABCA funded BAER clinics. We will provide more information on the research and the foundation as it becomes avalable.

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I just located a cheek swab sample I took from my dog (producer of EOD) before she died. If the ABCA health and genetics committee would like it, they can have it. Her son who went deaf had serial BAER tests from 6 weeks (normal) to 4 yrs (starting to go deaf) to 6 yrs (deaf).

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I just located a cheek swab sample I took from my dog (producer of EOD) before she died. If the ABCA health and genetics committee would like it, they can have it. Her son who went deaf had serial BAER tests from 6 weeks (normal) to 4 yrs (starting to go deaf) to 6 yrs (deaf).

 

That's a real find, Liz -- a very informative sample. I'll send you a PM.

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