Every step we take...
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It seems that every day - in the world of dogs and the world beyond - we see decisions made that may work for part of a problem, but because they do not take into account the complex reality of the bigger picture, they are unlikely to be fully effective. Every step we take at IPFD reminds me of this interconnectedness - and of the need for IPFD's international, multi-stakeholder approach. And about how grateful we are for the Partners, Sponsors and collaborators who make our work possible. We have created a short, 'lite' video to highlight these issues and then expand on examples below.
IPFD's International Dog Health Workshops have helped to pull the vision of and methods by which the goal of better health and welfare for dogs is achieved.
Breed Health Strategies are the foundation of planning for health and welfare improvement in dogs. A strategy for a breed may include any, or all, of the following: disease, longevity, genetic diversity, conformation, temperament, working ability. See Breed-specific Breeding Strategies - 3rd IDHW follow-up and a subsequent document which provide specifics for establishing a sound, workable strategy. These documents define projects and processes that focus on the objectives to safeguard and improve the future of a breed. (Breed Strategies IDHW content is attributed to Ian Seath, dog breeder, chair of the Dachshund Breed Council in the UK, and leader of the Breed-Specific Health Strategies theme at the IPFD International Dog Health Workshops (IDHW).) Also see IPFD CEO Brenda Bonnett's plenary talk at the 4th IDHW: Get a GRIHP on Breed Health, which addresses the complexities of big picture health concerns that must be addressed by collective information and actions.
From the Genetics theme-based topics discussed at the 4th International Dog Health Workshop, a pressing need for genetic counseling experts emerged - experts to provide meaningful evaluation of and advice on breed-relevant use of the growing number of DNA and health screening tests available to dog owners/breeders. A key action/project at the workshop was interrogating the concept of “validation” – which pulled together many specific genetic test issues. It was decided that creating a model for addressing Validation for genetic tests would be the best use of time for the workshop. This was effective in guiding discussion to identify specific actions/projects moving forward.
The questions from the breed community: How do we know what tests to use? How can we trust the test results? See the Report from the Genetic Testing Theme, from the 4th International Dog Health Workshop.
Tools are needed! Why? Direct-to-consumer genetic tests have provided greater access to many different breed-specific and general genetic tests for dogs. This has raised concerns from owners and breeders who need more guidance and direction in making informed testing decisions. To help with this, the HGTD in December of 2019 added relevance ratings to the interface. Currently, the relevance rating is determined based on a wide-variety of evidence sources. This includes peer-reviewed research papers, recommendations from the original researchers/test developers, input from additional experts including veterinary specialists, and breed experts. It is important when considering the ratings to understand that this effectively indicates how much we currently know or do not know about a specific test for a specific breed. This does not necessarily indicate how “good”, or “bad” a test is. It also does not indicate the clinical importance of a test.
So who is doing what in the big picture - of course management of dog's well-being includes and goes beyond DNA tests - health screenings matter, temperament matters, conformation matters... The Health Strategies Database for Dogs is in the works to augment health information available on DogWellNet... stay tuned.
The ongoing creation of tools and educational content to improve the health and welfare of dogs by kennel and breed clubs, and work done by groups of breed enthusiasts drives the big picture forward.
In the Blog post, Breed Health... What is your vision?, the take-away message is, undertake actions and make decisions that can impact the dog world in beneficial ways. We continue to promote international efforts on the challenges for dogs; we work to bring together stakeholder groups and organizations.
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