July 1, 2020 – When the Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute (ASHGI) was established in 2001, the goals were simple yet challenging: address health concerns in the breed, provide owner education and assist breeders with pedigree and genetic services.
Almost 20 years later, ASHGI continues its work, including funding studies at Morris Animal Foundation that tackle some of the breed’s biggest health challenges.
“When ASHGI was established, we spent some time accumulating funds so we could do grant support,” said CA Sharp, ASHGI President (and cofounder) and long-time Australian shepherd enthusiast. “When we had enough to start funding, we began to look for research partners and, of course, Morris Animal Foundation was at the top of the list. I was even able to attend two grant review sessions and was very impressed by the quality of the people, their focus and professionalism.”
ASHGI made its first gift to the Foundation in 2007, supporting the Canine Cancer Initiative. While most of their gifts have been directed to cancer studies, they also have funded studies in hereditary cataracts and epilepsy, which is one of the big three health threats to the breed along with two cancers, hemangiosarcoma and lymphoma.
“Australian shepherds are really special dogs; smart, responsive, easy to train, devoted to people, great working and watch dogs,” said CA, who has owned Aussies since 1972. “We want them to have the healthiest lives possible, and Morris Animal Foundation is helping us do that.”
For CA, Morris Animal Foundation was one of two major granting organizations that not only conducted more broad-spectrum canine health research, but also research for purebred dogs. These studies rarely benefit only the breed involved, as findings often apply to all dogs in the advancement of veterinary science.
Organizations like ASHGI provide essential support to canine health studies at Morris Animal Foundation. Our work wouldn’t be possible without them. Thank you!