In the United States, even dogs have their DNA test

The ritual became familiar. Open the kit, swirl the swab, dip it in the solution and mix, then wait impatiently for the result. Except that right now, it’s in the gutter where the smear is taken and, most of all, it’s not a screening for Covid-19 but a DNA test for dogs.

The popularity of these tests, which showed up fifteen years ago, recently exploded in the United States, where nearly 40% of families have at least one of these furry friends.

Embark Vet, which was founded in 2015 and which sells one of the most popular kits in the United States, assured the AFP, for example, that it will experience 235% growth between 2019 and 2020. And the pandemic has intensified further. movement, as a veterinarian.

They are not cheap, from 100 to 200 dollars depending on the kit. But in a country where the dog is king, this is not a problem: Americans will spend nearly 104 billion on their animals by 2020, according to the American Animal Products Association, the equivalent … of GDP in Slovakia.

– “End the rumors” –

If the sample is sent by mail, the wait can last between two weeks and a month. The first purpose, to find out about the doggie breed.

Sometimes, if the owner gets a purebred dog, it’s a question of verifying that there is nothing wrong with things. This is the case of Ashley Ternyila, who lives in New Jersey. The German shepherd he bought from a breeder looked like a wolf, despite his white fur, so “to put an end to the rumors, we tested him,” he told AFP.

But for owners who have chosen to adopt from residences, it is a question of trying to fill in the gray areas of life in the past with the person who is now part of the family.

“Having a dog also means wanting to know where it came from, what its history is,” explains Mila Bartos, a 51-year-old lawyer who lives in Washington. She adopted her three dogs, Natty, Maisie and Mabel, and for each proceeded with DNA testing, thus giving an overview of their family tree.

He discovered that Natty, a mixture of pit bull, beagle, chow-chow and German shepherd, had a cousin who lived nearby, in Baltimore, or that Maisie, half Labrador and had a shiny brown coat, coming from the long line. .

For his part, Levi Novey, a 42-year-old Virginia-based consultant, assured that the test allowed him to “better understand” Summer’s behavior, his little 6-pound black dog, “his strength , his hunting instinct “and” the way he chooses the people he hugs. “

It is specifically this “desire to understand, predict and anticipate the actions of their dogs” that strengthens owners ’curiosity about the type of their doggie, analysis for AFP Allen McConnell, professor at psychology specialist in human relations. of their pets.

Dog breeds actually have stereotypes-“Labradors get along well with kids, Pit Bulls are aggressive keepers”-which, although sometimes inaccurate, can help interpret the dog’s behavior. the beast, he explained.

– Genetic markers –

Levi Novey was also reassured to see that Summer is not predisposed to any genetic disease. Because this is one of the selling points for these tests: the most expensive allows you to review DNA to find genes that cause heart abnormalities, diseases of kidney function, premature deafness …

But beware, warns Sarah Bowman, a Washington veterinarian, it’s not because the dog has a “genetic marker (of a pathology) that it has the disease”. For the most part, these tests make it possible to identify risk and exercise greater vigilance in this area, he explained.

Contacted by the AFP, the association of American veterinarians also urged to consult one of its practitioners “before making any decision based on the results of these tests”.

And then, apprentice testers should also be aware of the legal implications. In the United States as elsewhere, certain breeds of dogs appear to be aggressive, such as pit bulls or staffordshire terriers, and are therefore banned in some apartments.

However, in this very procedural country, if the adopted dog is a half pit bull, “it could be a problem” to an overly observant owner, Mila Bartos warns of her capacity as a lawyer. . “And if you don’t want to know that information, then you probably shouldn’t do a DNA test.”

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