The five finalists in the Kennel Club’s Breed Health Coordinator of the Year competition have been selected and will now battle it out in a public vote to decide the overall winner.
Nominations were received from breed clubs and councils, and the finalists have now been chosen by an expert panel of judges, comprising world renowned canine ophthalmologist, Professor Sheila Crispin; Head of Canine Genetics at the Animal Health Trust, Dr Cathryn Mellersh; international championship show judge, Frank Kane; and Head of Health and Research at the Kennel Club, Aimee Llewellyn-Zaidi.
The judging panel were looking for individuals who have demonstrated a dedication to supporting health and welfare within their breed over the past year. Some of the aspects considered included the starting or coordinating of a new project or resource for the breed, such as a health website or health survey, and good communication with the Kennel Club.
In addition, good communication/liaising between the Kennel Club and the breed clubs was also considered, as were positive motivation of breeders and breed clubs, encouraging participation in surveys/research projects, fundraising for health projects/research, and a successful social media campaign.
The finalists and some of their achievements are as follows:
Liz Branscombe - Flat Coated Retrievers
Nominated by the Flat Coated Retriever Society, Liz provides confidential advice and support to owners of the breed and in 2016 organised a highly-acclaimed health seminar. She has a health survey planned for 2017 and continues to liaise with the Animal Health Trust regarding glaucoma research, as well as with Cambridge Veterinary School concerning work being done on cancer.
Sam Goldberg – Beagles
Nominated by the Beagle Association and the Northern & Midland Counties Beagle Club, Sam is a busy veterinary surgeon who gives freely of her time, knowledge and experience to owners of the breed. She has instigated a comprehensive website about Beagle health and has been the driving force behind encouraging breeders to DNA test for diseases affecting the breed.
Penny Rankine-Parsons – French Bulldogs
Nominated by the French Bulldog Club of England and the Pennine & Scottish French Bulldog Association, Penny has been heavily involved with the French Bulldog Health Scheme since its inception and freely offers her advice, support and encouragement to Frenchie owners. She is largely credited with getting her breed moved from the Kennel Club Breed Watch category 3 list to category 2.
Margaret Woods – Golden Retrievers
Nominated by the Golden Retriever Club of Northumbria, Margaret has long been involved in health projects including those undertaken by the Animal Health Trust into Hereditary Cataract and PRA in the breed. She has also assisted with research at Cambridge University into ectopic ureter and is credited with getting breeders to talk about epilepsy. She is known for dealing with enquiries in a tactful and confidential manner.
Kathryne Wrigley – Gordon Setters
Nominated by the Gordon Setter Breed Council, Kathryne works hard to keep all Gordon Setter owners informed of the latest health issues and developments in the breed. She is largely credited with, firstly, getting breeders to talk about late onset PRA and later helping them develop a test with the Animal Health Trust. Her knowledge as a veterinary nurse is put to good use, always explaining things in a way breeders understand.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The Kennel Club is very proud of these five finalists, but the ultimate prize of Breed Health Coordinator of the Year is in the hands of dog lovers. We actively encourage breed enthusiasts to engage in shameless promotion of their favourite candidate if they so wish, and are hoping the message is spread far and wide about all the good work done by people such as these on behalf of dogs. May the best woman win!”
Voting closes on 1st December. The winner will be announced at a special awards luncheon at the Kennel Club in London on 9th December where the Kennel Club Chairman, Simon Luxmoore, will present the award.