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Barbara J. Andrews, Publisher, AKC Master Breeder


Dog owners donate blood, tissue, and DNA samples to advance canine health but many research requests are scams to get free samples which are then sold at immense profit!


Back in 2006 the Buster Alert touched our hearts but can you remember any follow-up results?  No.  Any statistics on incidence?  No. It was believed to be limited to breeds in the Herding Group but we took note of the plethora of pleas for ALL breed-related genetic health problems which invariably required tissue samples, blood, or DNA tests. We dutifully supplied those very valuable (sellable!) samples...


We "vet" our information so we asked dog breeders and a breeder-vet about the so-called Herding Dog Genetic Defect and in the interest of readers, we also took a hard look at the marketing push for genetic health tests and what else is done with the samples...


SCAM OR FACT, THIS SHOULD GET YOUR ATTENTIONThe Buster Alert was one of the forerunners of a barrage of testing "alerts" emanating from veterinary universities and research laboratories.  One thing that ran up a red flag was this: Zofran, one of the drugs listed for "herding dog" research, is rarely given to human patients because of its astronomical cost. So why do animal testing or "alerts" on it???


You are about to learn the financial facts behind such blasts as the Buster Alert (below) and other profitable health scams. This does NOT mean you should forego health testing, only that you test for proven genetic health defects known to exist in your breed. advises readers to be generous with cash donations but cautious about the purpose behind blood or tissue sample collections. The Buster Alert solicitation for blood, tissue, and DNA samples (falsely) leads you to believe it is on behalf of a well respected University and that it applies to your dog.  Perhaps. The purported WSU (Washington State University) address contains an interesting "Important Notice" which states:


"The discovery of the mutation of the multi-drug resistant gene (mdr1), establishment of testing procedures, and development of all reagents was made by Washington State University. It is also a patent protected diagnostic test offered exclusively by Washington State University that has not been licensed to any other entity in the United States. It is licensed in Australia and Europe. Unless testing is conducted by Washington State University's Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory, Washington State University cannot control quality and accuracy and consumers may risk receiving inaccurate results."


There is always a cost for Free Health Testing

Since this was purported to protect the health of Herding dogs, we asked a breeder, a veterinarian, and an AKC judge who have extensive experience with Herding breeds for their input.


Fred Lanting, international judge, author, German Shepherd breeder responded:

This particular "news" item is legitimate. Yet, like so many other stories, it is a case of Chicken Little racing around the barnyard, squawking "The sky is falling!" I once knew a newspaper publisher who,  when criticized for running old items, said "it's still news if you hadn't already heard it". Over a decade ago there was a flap about Collies having bad reactions to a few such drugs and tranquilizers -anesthetics, and about Greyhounds and other low-body-fat breeds being at greater risk under anesthesia. It turned out that it would take a higher than normal dosage of the wormer to affect the Collies and Shelties, an amount they were not likely to encounter if taking ivermectin for prophylactic (heartworm prevention) use. … most of these things would have made fewer waves and died out earlier in the days before Internet and instant messaging. Nowadays, it is the custom to plead, "Urgent: send this to everybody on Earth, Mars, and Venus as soon as possible!”’


Peggy Mickelson, AKC judge, approved for Terriers and Herding Groups, said:

I shared this with my GSD list and will let you know if there's any feedback...I've not heard this before, either...although some breeds, as you know, are more sensitive than others.. Collies can't do Ivomec, we know, but lots of Shepherds are on it...not only mine, but my Cavaliers, too... and nobody's had any reactions to it yet (after years and years)........ of course, it will only take one time...


Michelle Redfern, DVM, a “breeder’s vet” who exhibits Group winning Old English Sheepdogs:

This work was originally started by looking at Ivermectin sensitive collies. The gene was found and is present in 90% of all collies today. When they broadened the search to look at other herding breeds, it was found that a lot of these dogs also have the same gene present. It can cause adverse reaction if these dogs are given these medications. However, and this is a big point, it is not a given that a dog with this gene will have an adverse reaction if given any of these drugs.


The most common use of the test is if a dog has an adverse reaction, and is found to carry the gene, then dosing with these drugs should be modified, or used with greater caution. No drug is without side effects. The best case of this is looking at some of the adverse reactions reported with placebo studies. They often have reactions in 3-???% of the individuals given a sugar pill. Go figure. Also, there is a test available for anyone who is concerned that their dog might have this gene mutation. It is a simple test that can be performed to check (don't know the turnaround time) but since there are multiple drugs listed that are commonly used for a variety of important treatments, rather than just saying that these drugs should not be used in any of the listed breeds, it would be prudent for concerned owners to have their dog tested. The web site you listed will have more information about testing for this gene mutation.




Veterinary laboratory research leads to valuable health discoveries for people as well as dogs but there's a disturbing trend in health research.


In the 1980s veterinarians unknowingly solicited business on behalf of a particular university which was later charged with state and federal violations for horrendous cruelty relating to eye studies….


The scramble for research samples has escalated. Blood, tissue, and DNA samples used to be costly to obtain but now come directly from dog owners instead of suppliers.  That is great if it advances medical research at a faster pace or at less cost however...


The most common way to obtain samples is to persuade dog owners that it is for a good cause.  It should be noted however that samples sent to veterinary universities and research laboratories are obtained at no cost to researchers who are in fact supported by grants, donations, and tax dollars based on budgets which include procurement of samples.


Blood, Tissue, or DNA Samples Fraudulently Obtained

Blood or tissue samples taken from you by a local lab or hospital, as ordered by your physician (or veterinarian) can be sold to other entities.


That is an ongoing fact and has been threatened for uncovering the truth. Once you have given up DNA, blood, or tissue samples, you no longer own it and it can be sold and/or used for any kind of unrelated research which you would never have intended! This is not news. See the landmark case Moore v. Regents of the University of California.


At the Toy Fox Terrier National Specialty representatives of a “University study” on some obscure “new disease modality” asked dog owners to donate blood samples, to be taken from the jugular vein. I asked questions which prompted more questions from concerned dog owners at our Parent Club Annual Meeting.


The imposters finally admitted A.) they were a research group; B.) unconnected to any university; C.) the study was for an obscure human drug; and D.) they were not vets even though they would be accessing (puncturing) the jugular veins of a toy dog breed.


Their cover blown when we asked why they weren’t paying owners for blood samples from which the drug company would profit, and having lost all credibility, the "veterinarians" left the meeting and did not show up at the highly publicized "University Study Samples" room the next day.


One breeder said I had sabotaged the project. My reply was that the laboratory workers had sabotaged themselves by assuming they could con a bunch of nincompoop dog owners into offering up their dogs' jugular veins to con artists for blood samples to be SOLD to drug companies.


A thoughtful dog owner will want a reasonable explanation before panicking about a new genetic disease that demands they rush to vaccinate or get health tests for obscure (and generally unlikely) problems. Dr. Erbeck, DVM revealed in the late 70's that parvo mutated in the laboratory {Ref #1} and there is every reason to believe he was correct.


There was a vaccine for Canine Lyme Disease {Ref #2} before there was a reported case. There were however, numerous urgent press releases that frightened dog owners into having their dogs vaccinated.  The majority lived in urban areas where their dogs would never be exposed to a deer -- which is the only vector for Lyme disease.  Where do YOU live? (see the truth about Lyme Disease below)


Canine flu {Ref #3} is another example. Said to be “rampant” and killing dogs, we do not have one confirmed death from canine flu even though we hear from hundreds of dog owners every month.  Let's face it, conditions are sometimes misdiagnosed or owners given the handiest explanation when a vet is puzzled but demanding owners need answers.


Support Health Testing And Research But Be Selective

There are many valuable research projects supported by the AKC Canine Health Foundation. We suggest you donate money, not test samples. Pharmaceutical companies, research-marketing groups, vet schools, and veterinarians are reaping the greatest reward from genetic and health tests, not your dog.  Dr. M. Redfern offers the best solution. If you have reason to be concerned, have your dog tested. If you have had no related incidences in your line, don’t worry about it until you do.


Now my caveat: I am not a veterinarian. I have no formal training. I am simply a skeptic who has studied medical and marketing phenomenon for over thirty-five years. If you have comments or other information relative to this article, please include the link (URL) to this article and email the editor.


Before you go, you might want to know why some dogs "glow in the dark" because of this basic DEFECT in health certifications.  And here's a really dishonest example, the "missing testicle - cryptorchid study" that pretended to be Cornell University in order to trick dog owners into supplying blood samples for studies having nothing to do with dogs! Here is information on the highly hyped MDR1 Multiple Drug Resistance.


Ref #1 Parvo Virus       Ref #2 Lyme Disease & Plum Island       Ref #3 Canine Flu History & UNF EST 1998 © Aug 2007-171019112201



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