The Leonberger Health Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Waltraut Zieher Memorial International Health Award.

Anita Treichler, President of the Leonberger Club of Switzerland and Mary Decher, Founder and Past President of the Leonberger Club of
America were notified over the weekend that they were the inaugural recipients of this international award for their outstanding contributions to worldwide Leonberger Health and Longevity. They will be honored at a special ceremony at the LCA National Specialty in Burlington, Vermont, April 23 – 27, 2014.

The women were nominated by individual groups of their peers that included breeders, companion dog owners, representatives of their respective national clubs and members of the international Leonberger community.

Both women are known for their courage in bringing to light the existence of unwelcome genetic mutations in the Leonberger Breed–Mary with Addison’s Disease and Anita with Leonberger Polyneuropathy. In the face of potential criticism of themselves as breeders, they chose to work tirelessly to bring these breed-specific health issues to the attention of the international Leonberger community.

Both women contacted researchers and helped to establish fundraising mechanisms for their respective national Leonberger clubs. Mary was one of the Founding members of the Leonberger Health Foundation. Both continue to be active today.

Addison’s Disease was virtually eliminated from the American population of Leonbergers due to Mary’s work with breeders and the collection of DNA for researchers who were interested in the disease; among them Dr. Elaine Ostrander of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Ry Wagner of the University of Oregon, and Anita Oberbauer of the University of California at Davis. The initial research on Addison’s Disease in Leonbergers was funded entirely by the Leonberger Health Foundation. Later research has been funded by the LHF working in concert with the AKC’s Canine Health Foundation.

Through the efforts of American Leonberger breeder and health advocates, Ann Rogers and Judy Johnston and the canine genetics laboratory of Dr. James Mickelson at the University of Minnesota, Anita was able to bring the canine genetics team of the University of Bern in Switzerland in to the search for the genetic mutations responsible for Leonberger Polyneuropathy. With the aid of funding from the LHF, the CHF and the Leonberger Club of Switzerland researchers from both Universities were able to isolate and develop a test for the mutation that causes the LPN1 variation of the disease. They are now addressing other forms of the disorder.

For further information, contact Susan Grosslight, Chairperson of the WZ Award Sgleos@aol.com

If you would like to see the full press release with photos please go to http://leonberger.com/ZieherAward%20Winners%20.pdf