by Claudia Williams
The American Bloodhound Club has joined the Canine Health Information Center or CHIC. CHIC is sponsored by the Canine Health Foundation (CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), and its stated purpose is to "provide a source of health information for owners, breeders, and scientist, that will assist in breeding healthy dogs". CHIC does this by maintaining a centralized database of health screening information for individual dogs and making that information available to the general public on its website. The ABC, through its health committee, contributes to this process by determining what screening information specific to bloodhounds should be included in the database. Screenings fall into two categories, required and recommended. The dog must be tested for the required screenings and recommended screenings are optional, but strongly encouraged.
The required tests are hips (OFA), elbows (OFA), and cardiac (OFA). The recommended tests are hips (PennHip), CERF (intraocular disorders only, including persistent pupillary membranes and cataracts, at two years of age), and patellas (OFA). CERF numbers for those passing the entire CERF exam will also be listed.
A dog will receive a CHIC number and certificate if the dog is permanently identified (microchip, tattoo, or DNA profile), tested for the required screenings, and the results of these screenings are released to the public. The dog does not need to pass all the clearances, only to have all results released. Since results are confidential, the owner must authorize, in writing, the release of negative test results. If a dog does not pass a clearance, the owner has three options:
(1) allow all information to be released. The dog will receive a CHIC number and certificate. (2) refuse any release or use of the information. This dog will not receive a CHIC number or certificate. (3) refuse public release of the information, but allow it to be used confidentially as a part of the database. This dog will not receive a number or certificate, but the health information may be used in scientific research studies.
There is no cost to the ABC for participation in CHIC. Enrollment of an individual dog is very simple and often requires no application by the owner. The three requirements (hips, elbows, and cardiac) are electronically transferred from the OFA database, and a dog passing these clearances is automatically issued a CHIC number and certificate, at no charge. For a dog that does not pass all screenings, the owner must give written permission to include negative results. Of the recommended screenings, patella and CERF are also electronically transferred at no charge. Because CERF will not release negative results, if a dog does not pass the entire CERF exam, but is clear for PPM and cataracts, the owner must mail the CERF report to CHIC with a request to include the clearances for PPM and cataracts. PennHip results, which must be entered manually, will cost $25.00. Owners are encouraged to include PennHip information because it will generate a centralized comparative database of OFA results and PennHip results for bloodhounds. To submit PennHip information, send the PennHip report, a signed request to include PennHip results, and a check for $25.00, to Canine Health Information Center, 2300 E Nifong Blvd, Columbia, MO 65201-3856. Include the owner's name and the dog's name and registration number. Owners of dogs meeting the requirements will receive CHIC certificates by mail, and the certificates will be updated as the owner includes other recommended tests. This will be retroactive for dogs, living or dead, who have the required screenings and who are permanently identified.
What does the future hold? Most current health testing is phenotypic testing, evaluating a physical aspect of a dog. Phenotypic tests do not reveal the specific gene combinations, but determine only if a dog physically expresses the disorder. There is a very bright future in canine genetic testing, including tests which will reveal the genotype (gene combinations) of a dog. As new DNA tests are developed, CHIC may include more detailed information, such as whether an individual dog is affected by a genetic disorder, is a carrier (but not affected), or is genetically clear of the disorder. This will add a new dimension to pedigree evaluation and supply more specific genetic information to breeders and researchers.
For more information on CHIC and to research breeds and individual dogs, please visit www.caninehealthinfo.org.
As chair of the ABC Health Committee, I would like to extend a special thanks to the members of the committee for their time and effort in enrolling bloodhounds in CHIC. Health Committee members are Beckie Cozart, Eva Dunkel, Susan LaCroix Hamil, Lisa Ivey, Anne Schettig, and Elaine Woodson.
This article is the sole possession of the author and is reprinted here by permission.