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Cocker Spaniel Cataract Research

American Spaniel Club Foundation Committed to Fully Fund University of Pennsylvania Cocker Spaniel Cataract Research

ASC Foundation will work together with American Spaniel Club, Inc. Board of Directors and members to generate the funding commitment.  

After the a report from Doug McFarlane (Director/Scientific Research Chair) during the April Board meeting of the American Spaniel Club Foundation (ASCF), the Board in attendance unanimously committed to fully fund research on Cocker Spaniel cataracts proposed by Dr. Gustavo Aguirre of the University of Pennsylvania.    As requested by Dr. Aguirre, next step is ASCF will work with University administrators to finalize a contract formalizing a 3 year ASCF commitment to his research lab at the University at an estimated total cost of nearly $163,000.  Most of the money will go to funding the staff required for this type of research.  After a symbolic personal financial commitment by each ASCF Board member in attendance to the research, the ASCF Board simultaneously approved launching a rigorous fund raising effort that will be co-chaired by Laurie Foley and Elena Duggan, two ASC members who are experienced in large scale fund raising work.   

Following this commitment, ASC President Calvin Ward and the ASC Board echoed support to ASCF for funding this research with a unanimous vote of support by those in attendance.  ASC and ASCF working together with our membership and fanciers around the globe gives confidence that we can successfully fund this exciting research.

For those not familiar with the research proposed by Dr. Aguirre or who had some questions, here is a bit of background.  The purpose of Dr. Aguirre’s research is to identify the gene and mutation responsible for inherited cataracts in Cocker Spaniels, and subsequently, to develop a genetic test that can identify genetically normal, affected, and carrier dogs.  The mode of inheritance for this condition for many years now has been characterized as autosomal recessive meaning that affected dogs have inherited the mutant gene from both parents.  This forms the basis for the research that will be conducted by Dr. Gustavo Aguirre’s laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cocker Spaniels like many breeds have a spectrum of clinical characteristics which affect dogs at various ages.  The focus of this research is to identify the gene/mutation for the most common form of cataracts, one occurring in the 4-10 year age range.   There seems to be somewhat limited data on the rate of occurrence for this condition in Cocker Spaniels, as no one organization has concentrated on collecting survey data in recent years.  Anecdotally, we all either have had cataracts in our Cocker lines or know someone who has had cataracts in their breeding stock.  In ASCF discussions with Dr. Aguirre he cited a study based on CERF data from 2000-2008 that suggested cataracts were diagnosed in 7.3% of all Cocker Spaniels examined in those years.  Dr. Aguirre feels this number is somewhat suspect since it includes both acquired and inherited cataracts and the latter category might include different genetic causes.  Nonetheless, as Dr. Aguirre pointed out, the consequence of even a lower number is cause for great concern.  For example, if we assume that say 5% is a more accurate number that translates into approximately 30% of all Cockers examined would be carriers of this condition. 

Many ASC members are probably aware that Dr. Aguirre, with help from Deb Rudman and many other dedicated breeders in the northeast, has started collecting DNA along with his clinical exams to get an initial set of data to begin the research work.  There has been some concern expressed that the collections are regionally limited.  This is due only to current limited staffing and as Dr. Aguirre assured us.  Once the contract with ASCF is finished and funding is provided, Dr. Aguirre can begin to hire the dedicated personnel that will facilitate broadening the collection process and support the work of the study at the University of Pennsylvania.  In the meantime while the ASCF finishes the contract, we will launch our fundraising work to accelerate what has already been ably collected by ASC members.  Further communications will be coming in that regard from our co-chairs.    

Thank you to the ASC members who brought this research to ASCF attention and urged us to consider funding it.  We look forward to working with the fancy in helping ASCF meet this financial commitment for the betterment of our breed.  While success is never guaranteed in research, this is an excellent opportunity to potentially make a big difference for our breed.

Charles Born, Communications Director for American Spaniel Club Foundation

Take the surveyUPenn Survey 

January 9, 2018


ASC received this request from the University of Pennsylvania regarding its Diabetes Program.  Please click on the link and take the survey. 







Dear Officers, Board, and Chairs of the American Spaniel Club,

I am writing to ask for your help with Dr. Hess and my research project at the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school. We need many thousands of dog owners to complete our short 5 minute online survey (details included in the link) at:



Any and ALL dog owners can complete the survey, regardless of health status and whether the dog has diabetes.

We were wondering if you would be able to extend this survey to your members (via email to group lists) and/or post the link onto your website. Posting and sharing our link on social media is strongly encouraged to reach the general dog owner population (and Cocker Spaniels across America!). We have been fortunate enough to receive support from the AKC and other breed clubs, whom are promoting the survey to their members and on their websites.

Every dog is valuable to this study and your assistance would be immensely appreciated by us (and dogs alike!). Please let me know if you can help. Thank you very much!

- Dr. Stephen Cai and Dr. Rebecka Hess

Stephen Cai
Internal Medicine Resident
University of Pennsylvania

Appointment Desk: (215)-746-VETS

Emergency Room: (215)-746-V911

Pharmacy: (215) 898-7881


Thank you! 




Board nominees to serve 2-year terms 

Earlier the National Nominating Committee presented the following nominees to serve 2-year terms (1-18 to 1-20) as officers of the club.:



President — Diane Kepley 

1st VP — Julie Virosteck 

2nd VP — Kathy Egeland-Brock


Now the Zone Nominating Committees have finished their work and are nominating the following individuals to serve as Directors and Alternates for 2-Year terms (1-18 until 1-20).


Zone 1 

Director — Stacy Dobmeier; Alternate — Vivian Hudson


Zone 2

Director — Dale Ward; Alternate — Karin Linde Klerholm


Zone 3

Director — Bonnie Buell; Alternate — Lisa Arnett


Zone 4

Director — Linda McLean; Alternate — Lane Tarantino 


Zone 5

Director — Alan Santos; Alternate — DeAnn Jepson


Any members who were not nominated by these committees may run by petition received by the Secretary on or before November 15th. Requirements for the petitions are contained in Article IV, Section 2 of the bylaws found on the ASC website under Documents.



***** FLUSHING SPANIEL SHOW 2018 U P D A T E *****

Due to unforeseen delays with the building improvement construction, the Knoxville Exhibition Center will not be ready in time for our January show. Therefore, we will move the show to the Jacob Building at Chilhowee Park (2201 E. Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville).

The venue is a short 5 ½ miles (approximately 10 min.) drive from the Holiday Inn. The Knoxville Convention Center team has committed to making this unexpected transition as seamless as possible. We are working with Visit Knoxville (Convention & Visitors Bureau) to provide shuttle service for our members and guests to/from the Holiday Inn and the show venue.

More information will be available shortly as the Show Committee works on the logistics of the Show.  For now, we recommend that everyone who has reservations at the Holiday Inn, KEEP them. The few motels located by the facility are not recommended by the KCC or Chilhowee Park management. However, if you would like to cancel your reservation, please DO NOT call the Holiday Inn.  Please contact Jane Williams.  We have a waiting list for rooms and we need to facilitate the room change or the room will go back to general hotel inventory. 

ASC 2017 National Specialty DVD Clips

Best in Futurity July 2017

Best of Breed  July 2017

Junior handlers July 2017 

Latest report from Dr. Aguirre/University of PA cataract study

ASCF WEBINAR Report and Presentation