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Seeing Eye is genetically engineering a breed of dog to be immune to progressive retinal atrophy. Get the connection? Who knows more about helping people see? But Golden and Lab breeders aren't so sure...





Staff © 2000


Genetically engineering a breed for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Is it a good thing? The blind sure are thrilled but some breeders feel that this impinges on purebreds.


Science has invented a new breed of guide dog with better resistance to certain debilitating diseases that prevent the dog from serving its human partner, and in some cases, prevent the blind person from being able to use a guide dog.


Quoting from an article in Popular Mechanics 4/2000; "Selective breeding of Labrador and Golden retrievers has produced an improved strain of dog guides for the blind.


"Called the Lab-golden, the new breed is more patient with their masters than the traditionally used animals, which include Labs, Goldens, German shepherds and, for those allergic to fur, Boxers.


"More important, the lab-golden is immune to progressive retinal atrophy. This genetic eye disease has the ironic effect of slowly blinding guide dogs, which is both costly and emotionally devastating for their masters, who come to know their animals as more than just pets.


The Lab-golden is the result of research by Eldin Leighton, Director of Canine Genetics for Seeing Eye Inc. This Morristown, N.J., organization that trains guide dogs has been working for more than 20 years to improve companions for the blind. EST 1998 © 2000




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