BDN interviews Connell about Fogler collection that could save at-risk dog breeds

The Bangor Daily News interviewed Laurie Connell, a research professor in the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, for a report on a UMaine collection that has the potential to save at-risk dog breeds. UMaine recently acquired the largest collection of dog pedigrees in the world, which breeders and researchers can use to improve genetic diversity of breeds with abnormalities resulting from generations of inbreeding, the article states. “The lower the genetic diversity, the higher the likelihood that there will be enough recessive genes present for a particular trait to show up,” Connell said. Connell, who has two Český Fouseks — a Czech hunting dog breed that suffers from seasonal alopecia — has researched the breed for years. She discovered a large collection of uncataloged books on a research trip to the American Kennel Club library, and worked with colleagues at UMaine’s Fogler Library to move the collection, which is now cataloged and publicly available. “It’s a unique group of stud books. It’s a huge collection. If your dog has dangerously low genetic diversity, you can go way back through one of these books, see a pedigree from Europe or elsewhere in the world, and see if you can breed with a dog from that pedigree. That starts to bring that diversity back in,” Connell said. And the collection provides a different angle on history, too. “Reading these books from back in the 1880s, you get to see this world through a perspective that is really unique — through the eyes of hunters and their dogs,” Connell said. “Dogs are part of human history.” WGME (Channel 13 in Portland) carried the BDN article.