2012-2013 Annual Report of the American German Shepherd Dog Foundation

The American German Shepherd Dog Foundation continues to fulfill its mission to seek out and support fundamental, short and longer range studies associated with health issues primarily related to the German Shepherd Dog. These studies may also lead to understanding issues in all dog breeds as well as humans. Owners of German Shepherd Dogs have experienced many of the problems related to the studies supported by the Foundation.

In furtherance of this effort, the Foundation recently authorized funds for seven grants in the amount of $27,000 through Morris Animal Foundation and the AKC CHF to support health research studies of interest to German Shepherd Dogs and other breeds.

Earlier this spring, the Foundation authorized funds in the amount of $13,000 to support AKC CHF studies of interest to the health issues in dogs.

  • In recent Morris Animal Foundation grants, a grant in the amount of $5000 is to Dr. Amy K. LeBlanc at the University of Tennessee is looking at the safety, efficacy and prognostic factors of a cancer killing virus developed by the Mayo Clinic for use in dogs. The study will look at how the virus will spread to cancerous cells and the overall immune response of tumor cells to the virus.
  • In addition, the Foundation issued a $5000 grant to Dr. Erin B. Dickerson at the University of Minnesota to study the problem of resistance to drugs used to treat hemangiosarcoma, a common and highly metastic cancer. The drug resistant cells have been identified. The focus of this study is to try to find a mechanism to disrupt the drug resistance mechanism and improve drug response.
  • Next, the Foundation issued a $5000 grant to Dr. Gerlinde R. Van de Walle at Cornell University to understand how mammary cancer develops. Dr. Van de Walle and colleagues will study the growth and migration of mammary cancer development with an eye to discovering biomarkers and in turn, more targeted and less toxic therapeutics for canine mammary cancer.
  • The Foundation issued two $2500 fellowship grants, one to Dr. Hiroyuki Mochizuki at North Carolina State University to identify the underlying molecular mechanisms of mast cell tumors. Mast cell tumors account for up to 20 percent of all skin cancers in dogs. The second grant is to Dr. Esther M. Chon, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison looking at issues relating to malignant melanoma, a serious cancer in dogs. The study will try to understand a pathway which will improve treatment of malignant melanoma in dogs.
  • The Foundation also issued two grants in the amount of $3500 each through the AKC CHF.
    One grant is to Dr. Kenneth W. Simpson at Cornell Universit
    y who will look at the role of E.coli in the intestinal tract of dogs and identify the genetic markers related to serious inflammatory bowel disease. The E.coli is similar to that found in humans suffering the same malady. The study will look for the genetic marker that may further lead to screening tests to eradicate the disease in dogs. The study may also advance the understanding of the disease in humans.

    The second grant is to Dr. Grace E. Pluhar who is looking for an alternative to aggressive radiation therapy, generally in older dogs, for brain tumors. Dr. Pluhar has developed a protocol to use vaccines, developed by others, in a large scale clinical trial hopefully to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of vaccine based therapy in dogs having specific brain tumors. A six dog trial has been completed with hopeful preliminary results. This study may also have human overtones.

In the spring of 2013, the Foundation approved six AKC CHF grants as follows:

Dr. Matthew Breen at North Carolina State University. The grant focus is the Identification of diagnostic subtypes of canine leukemia. Leukemia represents a range of cancers, most often classified according to the type of blood cell affected and the clinical progression. Leukemia may be chronic, progressing slowly for many years with minimal symptoms, or acute, with sudden onset and rapid progression of symptoms, often resulting in euthanasia. Several of the subtypes have been shown to have better response to therapy and thus correlate with prolonged survival. This study will enhance our understanding of canine leukemia by identifying regions of canine genes that may be critical for the control of these cancers. Additionally, this study will provide data with value to impact our knowledge of the corresponding human disease.

Dr. Jaime F Modiano at the University of Minnesota. This grant will target Hemangiosarcoma Progression and Improve Outcomes Hemangiosarcoma is a rapidly fatal disease. So many dogs are at risk to develop hemangiosarcoma that 40 Breed Clubs designated it as a research priority for 2012. Despite considerable efforts to find effective treatments, the outcome for dogs with hemangiosarcoma has changed very little over the past 30 years. Recent evidence suggests hemangiosarcoma conforms to the "cancer stem cell" model, where a defined subset of cells is responsible for initiating and maintaining the tumor. These cells are resistant to conventional therapies and they also are very adaptable, being able to survive in a variety of niches. The goal of this study is to disrupt the interactions between hemangiosarcoma cancer stem cells and their microenvironment to enhance the sensitivity of these cells to conventional and targeted therapies and improve the outcomes of dogs with this disease.

Dr. Aravind Ramakrishnan, MD at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Defining the different forms of the Dog Leukocyte Antigens (DLA ) in a large number of dogs of diverse breeds. DLA play important roles in the immune system including the recognition of self as well as recognition of foreign pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Matching of MHC genes between the donor and recipient is important for the success of stem cell and tissue transplants. Knowledge of these associations has been valuable in understanding disease mechanisms. Recently improved methods for identifying the different forms of the DLA genes has been accomplished in a large number of dogs of diverse breeds. The distribution and frequency of different forms of each of these genes and their specific clustering among different breeds will greatly enhance our knowledge of the genetic diversity among breeds. Such a database will also enable tissue transplantation from unrelated but matched donors as a treatment for advanced malignancies and other diseases, among dogs of most breeds.

Dr. Nicola J Mason at the University of Pennsylvania. The goal of this grant is to optimize vaccine/protocol to stimulate more effective anti-tumor immunity that will prevent relapse and prolong overall survival in dogs with Non- Hodgkin's Lymphoma ( NHL). Canine lymphoma is the most common hematopoietic (blood cell) cancer in dogs. Chemotherapy induces remission in 75-85% of patients; however, the majority relapse with drug-resistant lymphoma within 8-10 months of diagnosis and most dogs die of their disease shortly thereafter. Cell-based vaccine strategies that stimulate anti-tumor immunity have shown promise in the treatment of many different cancer types including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in humans. We have used a cell-based vaccine to induce antitumor immunity in dogs with NHL. This vaccine given three times after successful induction chemotherapy significantly prolonged overall survival. However, in the majority of dogs the vaccine did not prevent relapse but significantly prolonged second remission duration. The goal is to optimize our vaccine/protocol to stimulate more effective anti-tumor immunity that will prevent relapse and prolong overall survival in dogs with NHL.

Dr. Bruce F Smith at Auburn University. Discovery of Novel Diagnosis and Prognosis of Canine Hemangiosarcoma.  Hemangiosarcoma is a tumor of blood vessels, often located in the spleen, causing death in almost 100% of patients. The prognosis remains poor even if aggressive treatments are undertaken. It is currently impossible to differentiate hemangiosarcoma from other masses of the spleen without the expense of surgery and biopsy. A special problem for dog owners is the fact that the main differential diagnosis is splenic hematoma, which is benign and carries a good prognosis. Micro-ribonucleic acids (miRNAs) are small ribonucleic acids (RNAs) that prevent messenger RNAs (mRNAs) from creating proteins. MiRNAs have been linked with cancer and can act as tumor suppressors (prevent cell overgrowth), oncogenes (promote cell overgrowth), or both depending on the tumor type. Dr. Smith will profile miRNAs in dogs with hemangiosarcoma using RNA sequencing and compare these to expression profiles of other canine splenic masses and normal spleens of dogs. The end result will be discovery of novel biological markers of hemangiosarcoma to enhance diagnosis and prognosis in dogs.

Dr. Margaret V. Root Kustritz at the University of Minnesota. Identification of Enhanced Methods for Semen Preservation Semen is not sterile and cannot be collected without bacterial contamination due to presence of normal bacterial flora on the urethral mucosa. Bacterial growth in stored semen is presumed to be controlled by addition of an extender to the semen, a liquid medium containing nutrients, buffering agents, and antibiotics. There is evidence in large animal species of varying effectiveness of antibiotics in controlling bacterial growth in extended semen, raising concerns about passage of disease through semen. To date there are no studies in the dog documenting control of growth of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, and mycoplasma through use of antibiotics in commercially available canine semen extenders. Dr. Kustritz will evaluate whether growth of aerobic, anaerobic and mycoplasma species will be controlled in semen extended with commercial canine extender when held at refrigerator (5°C) or room (20°C) temperatures for up to 48 hours. The results will provide practical information to breeders who ship and receive semen.


Your Board continues to be good stewards of the funds of the Foundation. Investing is low risk but high quality equities and bonds resulted in an 8.26% annualized return over the past two years.

To continue the efforts of the Foundation, the Board always welcomes contributions.

Contributions can be made through the Foundation web site (www.agsdcf.com) via PayPal. Checks can be sent to our treasurer, Ellie Carson, 3085 25th Avenue SE, Albany, Oregon 97322. Your contribution will be invested wisely and used to increase the knowledge of everyone interested in improving the quality of life of the dogs we love.  

The American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation, Inc. Started the year 2008 with a BIG BANG!

Silent Auction

The 2007 AGSDCF, Inc Silent Auction and Live Auction was the MOST SUCCESSFUL of any time. Monetary gifts and bequests were received during the 2008 year which provided the strength of the Foundation coffers to expand its giving in the form of research grant sponsorship.

New Board Members

The strength of the Board was enhanced by the addition of Tim Brown, Dave Coleman and Laurie Pruett. Laurie will also serve as Fund Raising Chairwoman. As promised in the last yearly update, the Foundation Board has not been sitting still. During the 2008 year to date, the AGSDCF has funded or partially funded 5 important research studies totaling $91,920.00. (This amount includes some matching funds). The largest single research grant sponsorship of $30,000 (Grant #934) was directed toward Investigation of Inherited Diseases of the German Shepherd Dog using the SNP Array. (Please refer to Pages 10 & 11 in the July 2008 Review, “YOUR FOUNDATION DOLLARS WORKING FOR THE GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG”.

Submitted January 2008 by Debra Ann Hokkanen, President

The year 2007 has proven to be another great year for the American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation Inc. Grant monies were once again earmarked to help fund Dr. Clemmons research at the University of Florida, plus additional funds have been pledges for research in cancer, heart and spinal myelopathy. The Foundation strives to always take a rational and realistic approach to funding research studies while remembering the broad spectrum of concerns that impacts our Breed.

During the year 2007, the AGSDCF Inc. welcomed three new people to the active support team of the Foundation. Mrs. Becky Tsaros very generously accepted the position of Website Manager and will be working closely with our Secretary Tish Walker. Sam and Sue Sacco assisted the Foundation Board at the Silent Auction table.

AGSDCF Purpose

agsdcf_logo_smallThe American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization devoted to funding research projects that improve the health of the German Shepherd Dog.

We are grateful to the special dogs who have given their hearts and souls to make our daily lives happier. They ask nothing more than to be loved, fed, and their health needs met.

Your donations to this Foundation will help make future generations healthier and happier.



Contact us:  info@AGSDCF.com

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