PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- For the estimated four million dogs that enter shelters in the U.S. each year, an innovative DNA test and coast-to-coast tour are shining new hope in finding them matches to permanent homes. Wisdom Panel, a brand of Mars Veterinary, the industry leader in canine genetic testing, has introduced DOGTRAX™ DNA tests, a new test designed for animal shelters that provides important information about a dog's breed history that could help shelters and potential adopters find compatible matches. The company will take the test on the road over the next nine months to swab the DNA of shelter dogs in a bid to find them forever homes.
According to a nationwide survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Wisdom Panel, in September 2013, among 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, almost 9 out of 10 U.S. adults (86 percent) consider the breed characteristics of a dog at least somewhat important if they were selecting to adopt at a shelter. However, the majority of shelters lack reliable breed background information for their dogs, so physical traits -- such as how big a puppy might grow to; whether or not he sheds; or how much exercise or space he needs -- largely come down to guesswork.
In addition, without the knowledge of a dog's breed ancestry, behavioral traits such as sociability with other animals, herding, digging or barking, can be left unexplained. In fact, according to a 2012 survey from Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, dog experts were incorrect in identifying at least one breed detected by DNA analysis in visual assessments of dogs more than two-thirds of the time. WISDOM PANEL® DOGTRAX™ DNA tests can provide valuable genetic insights to help shelters find compatible homes for dogs more quickly and may also help reduce the chances of them being returned.
"Mars Veterinary is excited to introduce a revolutionary tool designed to give shelters and adopters valuable breed insights that can help them take the guesswork out of compatibility," said Neale Fretwell, Ph.D., General Manager of Wisdom Panel. "We're confident that DOGTRAX™ DNA tests will become a valuable resource for shelters while helping adopters make more informed decisions about taking home and caring for their beloved new friends."
Cross-Country WISDOM PANEL® "SWAB-A-THON" TOUR
Over the next nine months, the WISDOM PANEL® "SWAB-A-THON" TOUR, hosted by celebrity pet expert and dog trainer Harrison Forbes, will partner with shelters in up to 24 major cities to swab the DNA of a number of their dogs. Tested dogs and their breed ancestry reports will be showcased at consumer pet events in each market with a goal of matching them to permanent, compatible homes and broadening awareness of this valuable new tool.
In addition, the WISDOM PANEL® "SWAB-A-THON" TOUR will aim to educate existing dog owners how an understanding of their dog's genetics can help them be better pet parents. Armed with breed knowledge, owners can better understand behavior questions, strengthen their relationship with their dog and take better care of his health. Visitors who bring their dogs to the Wisdom Panel booth at "Swab-a-thon" events can get them swabbed on-site for a special price of $30, or take home a do-it-yourself kit for $50 (MSRP: $80). Within three weeks of receipt of the cheek swab test, dog owners will be emailed an official Ancestry Report revealing their dog's genetic background. For every ten dogs swabbed at "Swab-a-thon" events, Wisdom Panel will donate one DOGTRAX™ DNA individual test kit to a local dog shelter to help them find a dog a forever home.
"Whether it's a shelter dog or a dog that's already found a loving home, an understanding of his natural tendencies makes it possible to create a tailored training, exercise and nutrition program to fit his one-of-a-kind needs," said Harrison Forbes.
The Wisdom Panel Legacy
Mars Veterinary launched its first veterinarian administered, blood-based WISDOM PANEL® MX test in 2007. The state-of-the-art WISDOM PANEL® Professional vet test, DOGTRAX™ DNA tests and WISDOM PANEL® 2.0 tests are based on more than 15 years of extensive research, drawing from the expertise of leading scientists, veterinarians, universities and breed organizations throughout the world. Its original development included the analysis of more than 19 million DNA markers from more than 15,000 dogs across the United States and Great Britain. As a result, the tests are the most complete and comprehensive products on the market and are able to detect the breed composition of a dog with unprecedented accuracy using Mars, Incorporated proprietary processing.
To learn more about the WISDOM PANEL® "SWAB-A-THON" TOUR and dog DNA testing, visit www.WisdomPanel.com, or join the conversation on Facebook/DoggieDNA, on Twitter @WisdomPanel (#Swabathon) and on Instagram @WisdomPanel.
About Mars Veterinary
Mars Veterinary is a business unit of Mars Symbioscience, the global health and life sciences segment of Mars, Incorporated. Its mission is facilitating responsible pet care by enhancing the well-being and relationship between pets, pet owners and veterinarians through valuable insights into pets as individuals.
For nearly a decade, Mars Veterinary has researched and developed state-of-the-art genetic tests for mixed-breed dogs, revolutionizing personalized pet care. By discovering a mixed-breed dog's ancestry, pet owners and veterinarians can work together to tailor wellness programs that fit the one-of-a-kind needs of a mixed-breed dog. For more information, visit www.wisdompanel.com.
About Mars, Incorporated
In 1911, Frank C. Mars made the first Mars candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen and established Mars' first roots as a confectionery company. In the 1920s, Forrest E. Mars, Sr. joined his father in business and together they launched the MILKY WAY® bar. In 1932, Forrest, Sr. moved to the United Kingdom with a dream of building a business based on the objective of creating a "mutuality of benefits for all stakeholders" – this objective serves as the foundation of Mars, Incorporated today. Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has net sales of more than $33 billion, six business segments including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, Symbioscience, and more than 72,000 Associates worldwide that are putting its Principles into action to make a difference for people and the planet through its performance.
Mars brands include: Petcare – PEDIGREE®, ROYAL CANIN®, WHISKAS®, KITEKAT®, BANFIELD® Pet Hospital and NUTRO®; Chocolate – M&M'S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY® and TWIX®; Wrigley – DOUBLEMINT®, EXTRA®, ORBIT® and 5™ chewing gums, SKITTLES® and STARBURST® candies, and ALTOIDS® AND LIFESAVERS® mints. Food – UNCLE BEN'S®, DOLMIO®, EBLY®, MASTERFOODS®, SEEDS OF CHANGE® and ROYCO®; Drinks – ALTERRA COFFEE ROASTERS™, THE BRIGHT TEA COMPANY™, KLIX® and FLAVIA®; Symbioscience – COCOAVIA® and WISDOM PANEL®.
For more information, please visit www.mars.com. Follow us: facebook.com/mars, twitter.com/marsglobal, youtube.com/mars, linkedin.com/company/mars.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Weber Shandwick and Wisdom Panel from September 18-20, 2013 among 2,000 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jennifer Mann at 303-357-2391 or Bob Allison at 714-328-4556.
®/™ Trademarks © Mars, Incorporated 2014
SOURCE Mars Veterinary