The Kennel Club International Canine Health Awards

What: Launch of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust International Canine Health Awards supported by Vernon and Shirley Hill

Where: Crufts, at the NEC Birmingham, on the Kennel Club Breeding for the Future Stand

When: Sunday 11th March at 3pm.

Who: Mike Townsend (Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust), Rosemary Smart CEO Kennel Club, Vernon and Shirley Hill and Dr Alan Kelly

Three new awards, which will celebrate and provide funding for individuals who are carrying out innovative research to improve dog health, will be launched by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust at Crufts.

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust International Canine Health Awards, which will be the largest veterinary awards in Europe, have been created to recognise innovative researchers, veterinary scientists and students from around the world, who have carried out research that has helped to improve the health and wellbeing of dogs.

The Awards, which are being underwritten by a major gift from the Vernon and Shirley Hill Family Foundation, will identify and encourage visionary thinking, ambition and life-changing accomplishments. Those who receive the awards will be passionate about making a difference for dogs. Each award provides a large funding programme to the recipient, which rewards them for their dedication and innovation in the field of canine health and welfare and invests in helping them to continue making a difference for dogs. The awards will be:

The awards will be judged by representatives from the veterinary profession and the world of scientific research, including experts in the nominees’ selected fields. Dr. Alan Kelley, Dean Emeritus of The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, a native Scot, will chair the distinguished committee selecting the International Prize Winner. These will be the largest veterinary prizes in Europe.

Rosemary Smart, Kennel Club Chief Executive, said: “We value the support of Vernon and Shirley in this and many of the Kennel Club's other initiatives. They are both true dog lovers and this exciting awards scheme demonstrates their support of work here in the UK and internationally, to bring about a healthier future for all dogs.”

Mike Townsend, Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, said: “The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has been working with research facilities and veterinary medicine universities and organisations for more than twenty years, so we are proud to be able to recognise dedication and excellence in this field. The breakthroughs in science in recent years, coupled with the continued commitment to embracing and furthering this knowledge amongst outstanding professionals, will enable us to transform dog breeding and dog health in the future.”

Vernon Hill, Founder and Chairman of Metro Bank and whose Foundation underwrites the Awards, said: “We are excited to support these prestigious awards that will help transform canine health with the same visionary thinking and innovation that Metro Bank champions. Dogs are an important part of many people’s lives so we look forward to working with the Kennel Club Charitable Trust to support the people who are helping to ensure that they can lead the healthiest lives possible in the future. At Metro Bank, ‘Dogs Rule’.”

Background to Canine Research and how it is making a difference for dogs

International canine research over the past 20 years has led to an explosion of our understanding of the genetic makeup of the dog, particularly after the canine genome was sequenced in 2005.

This has enabled researchers to develop increasingly sophisticated technologies to understand dog genetics and health. This includes the development of DNA programmes that help to identify the mutations in genes that cause inherited diseases, which in turn has led to the development of DNA tests that breeders can use to eradicate the offending mutant gene from a breed’s gene pool.

Despite there being over 100 DNA tests available, continued research is required to address other inherited diseases caused by single gene mutations and there is every possibility that scientists will be able to provide DNA tests for the vast majority of these in the coming years. DNA tests also need to be developed for complex diseases, which result from the mutation of more than one gene and they are often influenced by environmental conditions. Such conditions include hip and elbow dysplasia, and inherited heart disease.

Helping humans

Increased research in canines won’t only benefit dogs. It is likely that most of the inherited diseases identified in the dog will have counterparts in humans. For example, quite a number of dog breeds suffer from an inherited eye condition known as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA); the equivalent condition in humans is known as retinitis pigmentosa (RP). It is already known that some of the mutant genes that are responsible for PRA in the dog are also responsible for forms of RP in humans. This link cannot be underestimated because the research required will often be more easily achieved in the dog and thus provide valuable short cuts for human clinicians to make progress in human inherited disease.

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8th March 2012

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Notes to Editors
The Kennel Club Charitable Trust invests money into supporting research facilities and veterinary medicine universities and organisations. In 2009, the Kennel Club Charitable Trust committed £1.2m in funds over five years to the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) to help investigate 25 inherited diseases. The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has invested almost £4 million into projects and research that will help to improve dog health

Vernon and Shirley Hill

Vernon and Shirley Hill are the founders of Metro Bank, Britain’s first new retail bank in 100+ years, now serving Metro London with 11 stores growing to 200. Vernon Hill was also the founder and chairman of Commerce Bank, America’s most convenient bank.

The Hill’s and Sir Duffield, their Yorkshire Terrier, have a deep commitment to the veterinary community including:

The Kennel Club
The Kennel Club is the largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training. Its objective is to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives with responsible owners.

It runs the country’s largest registration database for both pedigree and crossbreed dogs and the Petlog database, which is the UK’s largest reunification service for microchipped animals. The Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme is the only scheme in the UK that monitors and sets standards for breeders, in order to protect the welfare of puppies and breeding bitches. It also runs the UK’s largest dog training programme, the Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme and licenses shows and clubs across a wide range of activities, which help dog owners to bond and enjoy life with their dogs. The Kennel Club runs the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts, and the Discover Dogs event at Earls Court, London, which is a fun family day out that educates people about how to buy responsibly and care for their dog.

The Kennel Club invests in welfare campaigns, dog training and education programmes and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which supports research into dog diseases and dog welfare charities, including Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisations that re-home dogs throughout the UK. The Kennel Club jointly runs health screening schemes with the British Veterinary Association and through the Charitable Trust, funds the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust, which is at the forefront of pioneering research into dog health.