The following article appeared in a past issue of the Bagpiper as an introduction to CHIC and the Registry Committee
On January 16, 2006, the STCA Board made history by voting to establish a Scottish Terrier Registry with the Canine Health Information Center, better known as CHIC. The Board appointed a Registry Committee which was charged with investigating existing registries, laying the groundwork for the Scottish Terrier Registry, recommending the test requirements for the Scotties on the CHIC registry, and developing programs to educate the Scottish Terrier community about CHIC as well as to encourage participation in the registry. The Committee did its homework under the able leadership of AKC Delegate John McNabney. At the following STCA Board meeting held in Canton Ohio on April 28, the Committee report was delivered and the recommendations were approved. That same day, STCA Health Trustee Helen Prince introduced Eddie Dziuk, Chief Operating Officer of CHIC and the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). Eddie had been invited by the STCA HTF to give a presentation on the use of and the need for registries as well as the specifics of OFA and CHIC. His audience was large and enthusiastic!
At breathtaking speed, the STCA has jumped way ahead of many other breed clubs by understanding the need for a health registry and stepping up to the bat for the health of our dogs. Of the AKC’s 154 recognized breed clubs, 70 have entered the CHIC registry. As of this writing, the STCA is the 5th Terrier club of 22 to embrace CHIC. This is a huge step for our breed, and one that underscores the determination of our breeders and owners to do the right thing for our wonderful Scotties, both now and in the future. We are off and running!
Well, maybe we’re not all running in the same direction, at quite the same speed. But we are off! The topic of registries is a complex one. There are many details to explain, many questions to be answered. Most folks in the Scottie family are enthusiastic about this registry business, but there is some confusion and plenty of questions on their minds. The intent of this article is to try to clarify and simplify a complicated process, and hopefully answer some of those questions.
First of all, what is a health registry?
Very basically, a formal health registry is a repository of health data on dogs, managed by an independent and reliable organization such as the OFA. The health data is generated from the results of OFA accepted testing protocols, and these results are voluntarily entered and registered by the owners of the dogs. All results are entered, including normal, abnormal, clear, carrier and affected. OFA manages the registries and will release all of these results, including affected and carrier status, only if the owner of the dog gives permission at the time of registration.
OK then, what is the difference between a Registry and a Database?
A formal Registry such as OFA is established to record and preserve health data generated from the results of standardized, published testing protocols accepted by OFA. A database, such as the STCA’s CA (Cerebellar Abiotrophy) database, is a listing of affected individual dogs, maintained by the club and updated as new cases are diagnosed. A database serves to record and track a disease spread, as well as to assist in pedigree risk analysis for proposed breedings. The STCA can decide to set up a database for any disease or disorder in our breed, such as various cancers, elevated liver enzymes or Scottie Cramp in addition to CA. In time, any disease listed in a database can become part of a formal OFA Registry, once the diagnostic testing protocols are established, standardized and accepted by OFA. A Registry then is a kind of specialized database.
Isn’t OFA just about Hip Dysplasia?
It is true the OFA was founded in 1966 as a registry to record radiographic evaluations of hip dysplasia in German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. But today the OFA has expanded well beyond the scope of orthopedic disorders only. OFA records and registers test results for a wide variety of orthopedic and genetic conditions in literally thousands of dogs. The OFA’s mission is to reduce disease in dogs and other companion species such as cats, by encouraging testing, maintaining databases and disseminating information about orthopedic and genetic diseases, and supporting research. Currently, Scotties can participate in several OFA registries including thyroid, vWD, hip and knee disorders, cardiac disease, congenital deafness, sebaceous adenitis, and genetic eye disorders.
Are OFA and CHIC the same thing?
No, but together they are part of the whole picture. CHIC is a part of the larger OFA registry system, a more elite “registry within a registry”. It is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the OFA. To be eligible for CHIC, your dog’s test results must first be registered with OFA. Then, once all the breed specific testing requirements are satisfied, your dog is automatically awarded CHIC listing. The genius behind CHIC is that the testing requirements are determined not by some distant authority of OFA, but rather by each national club in order to address health issues unique to each breed. CHIC is a therefore a centralized, permanent health record that is custom designed by each breed club, an invaluable resource for all breeders, owners, and researchers.
How will registries like CHIC help us breed healthier Scotties?
Information is power. The more we know about the health of our dogs the better off we will be. The more we have access to records of all Scotties, normals, abnormals, affected and carriers, the better we will be able to assess risk for planned breedings. The whole point is to maximize a healthy outcome in a litter. There is no perfect dog, nor is there any pedigree that does not contain risk for some disorder. But by sharing information about their dogs on a registry like CHIC, responsible breeders can all participate in an honest and open process. CHIC is not about bragging rights for a breeder. It is about the health and future of our breed. It is, very simply, the right thing to do.
How will CHIC (or any registry) benefit a Scottie owner who does not breed?
A specialized registry like CHIC will ultimately be of more use to a breeder than a non-breeder. Understandably, few Scottie owners will decide to go to the expense and effort to satisfy all the requirements for a CHIC listing for pets not intended for breeding stock. However, all Scottie owners can participate with their Scotties in any of the OFA registries, with even a single test result. And, as an added bonus, the entry of any “affected” Scottie into OFA is free of charge. Will a registry ensure that the puppy you want to buy for a pet will grow to healthy old age with no heart-breaking or painful problems along the way? No. A registry cannot guarantee the health of any dog. But satisfaction comes from contributing to an important process like a health registry, even if you do not personally reap the benefit. The future of our Scotties is at stake, and all data is essential to understanding the genetic health of the entire Scottie community.