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ASCF “Fun Day” Eye/DNA Clinic & Ice Cream Social – May Lead to End of Cataracts in Cocker Spaniels


By Debi Lampert-Rudman, Topaz Cockers/ASCF “Fun Day” Chair

“I am delighted by what I saw here today. So many of the cockers presented to me today are those I don’t normally see at a clinic…the variety of ages and whole families who came with so much detail and information…What I saw may change what we have previously believed about cataracts,”

– Dr. Gustavo Aguirre

One hundred and seven Cocker Spaniels of every Variety, from 6 months to 16 years old, and their owners hailing from all along the East Coast, spent a sunny Sunday, April 28, enjoying each other’s company, eating delicious Halo Farms ice cream , Frosty Paws (for dogs), winning door prizes including a $100 Gas Card, and contributing major benefits to the future health of Cocker Spaniels at the American Spaniel Club Foundation’s 1st “Fun Day” Eye/DNA Clinic & Ice Cream Social to find a DNA Marker for Cataracts with Dr. Gustavo Aguirre

at West Trenton Animal Hospital, West Trenton, NJ.

126 dogs of various breeds attended the clinic with Dr Gustavo Aguirre, VMD, PhD, PhD (hc), world-renowned veterinary ophthalmologist and gene-therapy researcher at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania at the West Trenton Animal Hospital, 568 Grand Avenue, West Trenton, NJ


Organized by Debi Lampert-Rudman of Topaz Cockers, with permission of ASCF President Dee Torgeson-Rhismyr, Dr. Aguirre was contacted, a date confirmed, and a flyer circulated for pre-registration.

Attendees were instructed to bring 5-generation pedigrees, a special Cataract Research Form provided by Optigen, copies of previous eye exams to be left with Dr Aguirre, enclosed in a large plastic baggie for each dog.

Upon arrival, owners completed OFA paperwork and had dogs eyes dropped. OFA provided dated $7.50 discount stickers for those wishing to have eye test results listed on the website.

Waiting time was filled with ice cream, door prizes, and friendly chat in front of a fireplace.

Once their eyes were examined, dogs were ushered to one of two blood draw rooms. By day’s end, large refrigerated coolers filled with DNA samples, pedigrees, and forms were prepped for shipment to Optigen to begin research.


Cocker Spaniels participated in the DNA research and free blood draw, however, all breeds were invited to offset costs. Volunteers, prize donors, and ASCF covering Dr. Aguirre’s travel expenses kept costs low.

In fact, ASC/ASCF incurred no expenses due to $25 payments by attendees, donations, and Dr. Aguirre’s low fees. DNA marker research is being conducted by Optigen at no charge as well.

Thanks largely to generous donations by West Trenton Animal Hospital facility and staff, the health clinic was successful and enjoyable. The team led by Dr. John J. Kazmierczak, DVM, Dr. Jason Wilson, DVM, Hospital Manager Christine Rachwal, Victoria Brown, Vetcor Regional Manager, and Veterinary Techs Heather Sherotski, Eileen Oehrlein, Pam Aker, Ian Foulks, Tanya Kushnirchuk assisted with check-in’s, held dogs for eye exams, performed all DNA blood draws, and kept things on a top professional and pleasant path. West Trenton Animal Hospital donated all blood vials, packaged blood for shipping, and closed its entire facility for the Sunday event.



Dr. John J. Kazmierczak, DVM – Chief of Staff , West Trenton Animal Hospital, center, Debi Lampert-Rudman, at right, Dr Gustavo Aguirre, VMD, PhD, PhD (hc)


Following the clinic, Dr. Aguirre discussed some of his initial findings and said he had about half as many samples as he needs for his DNA marker research. “I am delighted by what I saw here today,” Dr. Aguirre said. “So many of the cockers presented to me today are those I don’t normally see at a clinic. I was delighted with the variety of ages and whole families who came with so much detail and information. It was wonderful.”

Dr. Aguirre said he found that in many cases dogs who were clear a year before were found to have significant cataracts the following year. “What I saw may change what we have previously believed about cataracts,” Dr. Aguirre added. “A dog that was clear and examined by a highly-respected veterinary ophthalmologist and then has cataracts the following year is significant. And, this happened in many cases.”

In addition, he said, owners were saying ‘…that’s just old-age cataracts’ regarding 6 -7 year old and older dogs. “That’s not acceptable,” Dr. Aguirre said. “Dogs do not have to go blind as they age. This doesn’t happen in other breeds…It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Another Eye/DNA clinic may be held Fall, 2013. For more details, contact Debi Lampert-Rudman,

About The Author

Debi Lampert-Rudman is a Freelance Writer, a Ceramic Artist represented by The William Secord Gallery, and breeds and shows Parti-Color Cocker Spaniels under the Topaz Cockers prefix. A member of the American Spaniel Club, Cocker Spaniel Club of New Jersey, and Board Member, Match Show and Publicity Chair of the Morris & Essex Kennel Club; Debi lives in Pennington, New Jersey with 5 cocker spaniels. She may be reached at , follow her on Facebook at or on Twitter @potterypup

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Posted by on May 23 2013. Filed under Featured, Health & Training. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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