The Framework

OverviewLeadership & HealthCommunication & EngagementParticipationImpact

The KarltonINDEX FrameworkProven Methodology

The Karlton Index framework is based on a simple but well known cycle of continuous improvement:  plan – do – review. The best way of understanding it, is to think of it as a structured set of four steps, each of which will contribute to improved breed health. The first step, is for someone, some group or some section of a breed community, to take a lead on health matters and start focusing on a health agenda. This is the Leadership section.

The second step is to communicate the plans of the leadership group widely, with the aim of engaging with as many breeders and owners as possible. This is the communication/ engagement section.

The third step, is to get people in the breed to actively participate in your health plans and initiatives, hence the section is called Participation.

The final step is to assess the positive impact each of the first three steps have had on breed health. Evaluation of your efforts at this stage will then go on to inform revised plans for the future – and in this way the steps begin all over again, giving you the continuous improvement structure.

Leadership & Health (20 points)

The Leadership section sets the foundation for health improvement in a breed. It covers resources in terms of time, people and funding. It calls for health improvement objectives, based on scientific data and research. It asks for a health agenda to be broad in its scope and include both genetic and conformation issues.

Communication & Engagement (20 points)

Communication and engagement focuses on how the above agenda is communicated to breeders, vets and pet owners. Also how those groups are encouraged to support the health agenda.

Participation (20 points)

Participation is about taking the most appropriate action to deliver the health strategy (e.g., reducing COI, health screening, DNA testing).

Impact (40 points)

IMPACT measures the achievement of the health objectives set by the breed communities and considers how they evaluate their own progress towards safeguarding the health and welfare of the dogs.

What we are looking for – Total 20 points

Element: Comprehensive breed health strategy

Types of evidence might include

Clear health and welfare objectives, broad in scope,  evidence based,  with consideration given to the following:

  • Genetic diversity including out crossing, if necessary.
  • Breeding objectives to eliminate deleterious physical traits.
  • Breeding objectives to reduce the incidence in inherited disorders.
  • Prioritisation of genetic diseases.
  • Plans to report and record health conditions.
  • Plans to tackle existing conditions.
  • An open health registry.
  • Limitations on number of times a ‘popular sire’ may be used.
  • Ethics of mating and whelping.
  • Enlisting the help of a canine geneticist and KC Health Team.

How this benefits the dogs

Modern genetics dictate that a good breeding strategy is one that is balanced and proportionate.  Focusing on eliminating one condition can give rise to other genetic problems.  An effective breed health plan needs to be broad in its scope to benefit the breed as a whole, and future generations of dogs.

An evidence based agenda and advice from a canine geneticist will ensure that the most beneficial strategy is deployed and the best use made of health testing/screening.  A further benefit will be in the development of effective medical treatment for affected dogs.

Increasing genetic diversity is vitally important in securing healthy future generations and should not be seen as a last resort.  Regular scientific outcross programmes will help to prevent new diseases from developing.

Element: Co-ordination and management of that strategy

Types of evidence might include

  • Named KC Health Co-ordinator.
  • A Health Committee reflecting a broad range of breed experience.
  • Clearly defined individual roles for the committee.
  • Available contact details of committee members.
  • Calendar of health related activities.

How this benefits the dogs

A strong and committed health committee provides the best chance of success in breed health improvement.  The team could include a representative for pet owners, those who work their dogs, and those involved in breed rescue as well as core breeders.  This will ensure that key information reaches a wider audience.

Element: Resources

Types of evidence might include

  • Appropriate budget to fund health activities
  • Sufficient time allocated. It is understood that much work done within breed clubs is voluntary.  This can work well but it may be advantageous to include people with some professional experience, as well as making use of a wider network of volunteers.

How this benefits the dogs

Health plans can only be implemented if backed by suitable resources. The faster these are found the more likely the plans will take root and the health challenges will be tackled in a more timely way.

What we are looking for – Total 20 points

Element: Communication of health strategy

Types of evidence might include

Number of ways this is communicated via websites, articles, events;

  • Clarity and simplicity of information.
  • Regular updates of information.
  • Integrity of the information.
  • Breadth of audience (e.g., show breeders, pet owners, vets, non-show breeders).
  • Communication is two way.
  • Health information is gathered from a wide range of sources.

How this benefits the dogs

Having identified what needs to be done to improve breed health, it now needs to be communicated to a wide audience, including pet owners and non-affiliated breeders. This is made very easy with internet communications.

Starting relevant health screening and testing quickly benefits all concerned.  Effective communication will support breeders by informing their breeding decisions, pet owners in their choice of dog, and vets to enable them to develop effective treatments.

Element: Engagement with health strategy

Types of evidence might include

Number and range of collaborative initiatives and partnerships.

How this benefits the dogs

Developing collaborative partnerships with other breed clubs within the breed, other breeds, and the relevant scientists will be mutually beneficial through shared learning and access to data both nationally and internationally.

Element: Communication of updated health data

Types of evidence might include

  • Publication of health survey results.
  • Development of open health registries.
  • Publication of test results.
  • Publication of numbers of DNA submissions.
  • Timely notification of new health issues/developments.

How this benefits the dogs

Genetic mutations can occur at any time, trends can shift quickly and breakthroughs can be sudden.  So any communication strategy has to be regularly updated.

What we are looking for – Total 20 points

Element: Breadth and depth of participation

Types of evidence might include

  • Participation in relevant health surveys.
  • Adequate participation in health testing/ screening/ breeding protocols.
  • Supply of DNA samples for research.
  • Number of post mortems.
  • Publication of COIs.
  • Monitoring use of ‘popular sires’.

How this benefits the dogs

This dimension will calculate the levels of participation in the strategies identified for the breed.  Credit will be given to those breeds which implement the strategies as widely as possible. The real benefit of this will be seen in future generations of healthier dogs.

Open participation will encourage the support of a critical mass of breeders so that ethical breeding practices become the norm rather than the exception.

Wider open participation will help to eliminate puppy farmers whose non participatory stance will set them apart from the rest.

What we are looking for – Total 40 points

For 2016, Impact will be measured differently. Feedback we received following the 2013 report was that the Impact section was the least helpful to breed communities as it did not give them credit for small incremental improvements.  In analysing that feedback we agree that measuring impact needs to change so here is the latest version of this section.

Element: Impact on puppy buyers/ pet owners

Types of evidence might include

Do they have easy access to reliable, honest and up to date information on breed health?

How this benefits the dogs

  • Owners making more informed choices about the breeds they opt for.
  • Owners have fuller understanding of the risks and benefits attached to their choice of breed and the ramifications of those in terms of cost and time to care for that breed properly.
Element: Impact on Breeders

Types of evidence might include

  • Have they got easy access to good breed health information?
  • Have they got access to a good support network?
  • Is there a strong collective pro-health attitude in the breed?
  • This should include positive attitudes towards genetic diversity, moderating exaggerated physical traits, openness to radical breeding strategies where health issues warrant them.

How this benefits the dogs

Breeders have created an open culture in sharing health information. They support one another in safeguarding the long term future of the breed. They are making breeding decisions that give due consideration for the collective good of the breed population.

Element: Health trends in the Breed

Types of evidence might include

Actions taken on health are fully evaluated by the breed community to ascertain with as much confidence as possible that:

  • No new health issues are emerging.
  • Where they are, they are acknowledged and managed constructively.
  • Health schemes are measured for the impact they are having on the relevant issue.
  • Health schemes and strategies are evaluated to ensure they have no or very few unintended consequences.
  • Health strategies are adapted in the light of information to come out of evaluation processes.
  • Strategies are having a measured, and externally verified positive impact on the breed and are adapted where necessary. The scope of this should be broad and include genetic diversity, use of popular sires, reduced exaggerated traits, maintenance of moderate physical traits and so on.
  • Trends in the health of the breed are verifiably moving in positive directions.

How this benefits the dogs

  • Health issues in the breed are managed competently.
  • Trends in health are actively monitored to secure, as far as possible the best outcomes for the dogs.
  • More dogs are living healthier lives and experiencing longer health spans.
  • The breed population as a whole is at lower risk of harmful health and welfare problems.

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