About the Pearson Fund
The Pearson Fund is named in memory of Elizabeth Pearson and in tribute to Roger Pearson, who dedicated so much of their time and themselves to the betterment of our breed. The Health Committee would also like to acknowledge and thank Karyn Beyer for her passionate efforts creating the concept of this fund and enlisting fellow (passionate) resources to execute this vision. The pilot version of the Pearson Fund has been established for the purpose of assisting Berner owners with the costs of necropsy and/or tissue collection and pathological diagnosis of specific genetic based diseases. The Fund will be used to reimburse up to $500 of the cost of approved procedures.
The collection and proper diagnosis of both Histiocytic Sarcoma (HS) and Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) are critical for ongoing research to benefit our breed and investigate health issues that affect our dogs. The actual collection and submission of tissue samples for diagnostic testing at the time of death are often a challenge for emotionally drained or bereaved owners — the process is sometimes complicated and often very expensive (particularly for the collection of spinal cord tissue). Many owners have already expended considerable financial resources just caring for the dog and are not financially able to spend yet more money on activities that essentially constitute a donation. Various health research projects in our breed require detailed information and data, and the Pearson Fund will help to provide the BMDCA with a unique opportunity to assist both the researchers and the owners in furthering the gathering of critical information.
Pathology of tumor tissue in Bernese is often detailed to be HS on the pathology report, but when the tumor tissue is later reviewed by researchers, it is actually found to have been lymphoma. When pathology is done, additional staining can also be performed to verify specific types of cancer. Having this extra verification of the diagnosis can help with treatment determination as well as to improve the information about HS in our breed.
While we now have genetic tests for two mutations found on the SOD1 gene which are associated with DM, we still don't know how many of the at-risk dogs with two mutated copies of the gene will actually get the disease. Necropsies for all at-risk dogs would help us learn more about the penetrance of this disease, and allow breeders to make more informed breeding selections.
Why Pathology is Important
Key Aspects of the Fund
Initial funding of $10,000 from the BMDCA Health Fund
Reimbursement capped at $500 per pedigreed dog (reimbursement not available to non-pedigreed dogs at this time). Note: The entire $500 may not be allocated — this will be decided by the Fund's panel at the time the request is submitted and when possible, an estimate from the veterinarian or pathologist should be obtained and included in the request for funding.
Reimbursement available to cover costs associated with collection and pathology of tissue samples for a diagnosed case of Histioctyic Sarcoma and spinal cord tissue for suspected DM; payment to be made only after presentation of the bill from a vet and/or pathology laboratory.
Dog must be entered in Berner-Garde with all relevant health data before reimbursement will be authorized, and owner must sign agreement to release full pathology reports to the Fund's panel and give permission for this information to be posted in the Berner-Garde database. The panel does understand in some cases payment may need to be authorized prior to the pathology/necropsy being performed, and this will be considered and/or or approved on a case by case basis by the approval panel.
The Fund will be managed as a subcommittee to the BMDCA Health Committee consisting of Pat Long, Toby Erlichman, and Joye Neff.