About the Project
The goal of protecting and improving the health and welfare of the Dalmatian is a team effort with conscientious breeders working together for the good of the breed.
Denise and Zeke
Project Manager: Denise Powell
Denise began raising Dalmatians in 1988 using Aberdeen as a kennel name . She became a member of the Dalmatian Club of America’s Health and Research Committee in 1994 and served as Chair of the committee until 2004. Her continuing dedication to the health and welfare of the breed lead her to form the Dalmatian Heritage Project in 2005.
In 2012 Denise was honored by the University of California at Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine for her work with Dalmatians. The following is the university's announcement about the award.
El Blanco Award Honors Client for Help with
Canine Genetic Research
April 18, 2012
The School of Veterinary Medicine is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2012 El Blanco Award, Ms. Denise Powell of Hayward, California.
The El Blanco Award recognizes significant contributions that animal owners and other benefactors have made to clinical veterinary medicine by presenting afflicted animals for clinical studies; offering hypotheses and evaluations of therapy; and supporting clinicians at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital who pursue novel diagnostic or therapeutic methods.
Powell, a dog breeder, is being honored for her contributions and dedication to eliminating hyperuricosuria in the Dalmatian breed. Hyperuricosuria occurs when excessive amounts of uric acid are found in the urine; the acid can form "stones" that block the urethra and require surgical removal.
Danika Bannasch, DVM, PhD, Professor of Genetics, Department of Population Health and Reproduction, nominated Powell for the El Blanco honor. "Denise revived an almost dead breeding experiment to produce 'normal' Dalmatians that will never develop urate bladder stones," Bannasch explains. "We used these dogs to identify the gene and causative mutation for excretion of high levels of urate in Dalmatian urine."
As a breeder, Powell has also emphasized backcrossing to an earlier, healthier type of dog that genetically is more than 99% Dalmatian - but whose offspring are less likely to have hyperuricosuria. Powell and others have worked hard to have these dogs recognized by the American Kennel Club. November 1, 2011, Dalmatian dogs descended from the cross were granted registration status.
Powell made direct contributions to genetic research: She provided urine samples, DNA samples, pedigrees, and photos of her dogs - and she found other breeders to provide similar materials.
Using the samples, Bannasch's lab identified the mutation that causes the problem. Her research team has also identified many other breeds that have the hyperuricosuria mutation and can benefit from the DNA test developed from this research.
Powell's involvement benefited the teaching mission of the school as two graduate students' doctoral theses were based on this project.
Finally, Powell's commitment helped the Bannasch lab develop a DNA test that dog owners can now use to make informed breeding decisions.
In all, Powell has made a distinctive contribution to canine health.