General Research Update

July 2022 Research Update

For many decades now, the American Spaniel Club Foundation remains the only nonprofit 501c3 with the mission of bettering the life of Cocker Spaniels through research, education, and rescue.  To achieve this mission, we focus on three initiatives.        

  • We contribute to and/or directly sponsor veterinary research programs to improve the health of Cocker Spaniels by understanding and attempting to eliminate the diseases, genetic abnormalities, and injuries that impact them.
  • We work to ensure that every Cocker Spaniel has a good home and adequate veterinary care by providing financial assistance to and promoting a national network of affiliated local rescue organizations. This effort has within the last year been reinvigorated under the leadership of Rescue Chair Andrea Floyd. 
  • We attempt to provide education and information on health and research topics that promote intelligent breeding, care, and knowledge of Cocker Spaniels.  Our strategy in the future is to expand this effort through a network of noted research scientists and canine experts using recent legacy-giving contributions.

These three pillars are funded through frequent fundraising programs and legacy giving initiatives through the generosity of American Spaniel Club members, the Cocker Spaniel fancy in general, and some corporations.   This year the Foundation was most honored to receive a major legacy memorial bequest that has given us the funding to think more strategically in supporting our three initiatives, particularly on the research front.    We hope this legacy giving will continue in the future.  We are launching a reinvigorated Legacy Giving drive at the July National through the leadership of Vice President Lindy Bennett.  

For this specific Foundation communication that you are reading now, we would like to focus on the current and future health and research direction of the Foundation.  Primary in our efforts is the continued support of the cataract research led by Dr. Aguirre and his research team at the University of Pennsylvania.  We expect to release some positive updates on the annual mid-year webinar later in August with Dr. Aguirre and his newly expanded team and we will share them via social media and on our website as soon as available.   As always Dr. Aguirre reminds everyone of the continued need for both affected and clear cases across all age groups as well as the annual exams and updates on the clear dogs already in the study.

 We are also currently sponsoring with the AKC Canine Health Foundation four research studies on diseases that have a serious impact on Cockers.  They are listed below.   More information is available on our website at ASC-F.Org.    If you have any further questions on this research, contact us at AsktheFoundation@gmail.com or see Health and Research Chair, Fulvia Bartoli if you are attending the ASC National in July.  

  1. OX40 Checkpoint Molecule Targeted Antibodies for Cancer Immunotherapy in Dogs     The Principal Investigator is Dr. Steven Dow Colorado, State University.
  2. Genetics of Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma in American Cocker Spaniels  Principal Investigator: Dr. Sara Thomasy, DVM, Ph.D. University of California, Davis.   We will be hosting Dr. Thomasy on a webinar in the future where she will talk more about her research and glaucoma in Cockers.
  3. Plasminogen-activator Inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and Impaired Fibrinolysis in Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. Principal investigators Dr. Tracy Stokol at Cornell University and Dr. Steven Friedenberg, at the University of Minnesota.
  4.  Clinical Trial for Evaluation of Propanolol and Doxorubicin in the Treatment of Canine Hemangiosarcoma.   The Principal Investigators are Dr. Erick Dickerson and Dr. Antonela Borgatti at the Univ of Minnesota. The research is also carried out with the Co-Investigators at the Univ. Of Purdue and Univ of Pennsylvania.

One of the outcomes of our strategic planning last year was to study and commit to and/or create specific research objectives and fund annual program budgets to support the rather lengthy amount of time most research requires.   We have been fortunate to have the opportunity to directly fund, through many contributions now over $400,000,  the Cataract Research Study with the University of PA led by Dr. Aguirre.  Most of the research we fund is through the AKC CHF and will benefit Cockers but very few are Cocker specific.   The question for the Foundation Board was what research should be a target along with our current commitments?  We have taken two approaches to answer this.

  • First, we realized that since one in 2004, the Foundation has not conducted a health survey within our fancy 2004 on what are the disease and health concerns of breeders and owners.   The results of such a survey would be vital in directing where the Foundation should focus our search for creating and funding new programs or supporting existing ones.    Our Health and Research chair Fulvia Bartoli along with her committee is working hard to get a confidential and secure health survey out as soon as possible. We ask for everyone’s participation when that occurs.   If you have any input or specific concerns on what we should be surveying please contact Fulvia or any other member of the Foundation Board.
  • Second,  we reached out to the Foundations of the other spaniel breeds and through the leadership of Health and Research Chair Fulvia Bartoli, we are excited that we have formed a discussion group called the Spaniel Health Initiative with the intent to share health and research focus, programs, and funding across the clubs.  We hope to find commonality among the spaniel breeds where we can leverage and fund research together as a group.   Included in this group, at the moment,  are the English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Welch Springer Spaniel, and Clumber Spaniel national breed clubs.   This exciting new Spaniel Health Initiative has met now three times and the main takeaways and strategies are the need to update our own Health Survey, identify the common causes affecting the Spaniel breeds, and share participation in clinical trials in the future.  More to come.

As the Foundation expands the support of research programs in other disease areas in the future, we want to emphasize that your participation in the studies or clinical trials is crucial to their successand is as important if not more so than the monetary support.   So please expect our pleading in this area to continue and thank you in advance for that support.

All of these initiatives are to better the lives of Cocker Spaniels everywhere.  Thank you for your attention to this long communication.  If you have questions or comments, please utilize our Foundation email at AsktheFoundation@gmail.com or talk to any of our Directors via email or at a show. As Foundation President and Executive Director, and on behalf of the Board, I want to thank all of you that have generously given your money, time, talent, and canine DNA in the past.    We look forward to your support in the future.