Labrador Retriever Pet

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OFA Overview

OFA or Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is a private nonprofit organization which was officially formed in November 15, 1966.  Within the United States, OFA is the premier registry of CHD (Canine Hip Dysplasia), a condition in animals where it is characterized by a loose and unstable hip joint.  OFA also has the world's largest database on the hip status.  

OFA Objectives

Even though its objectives have evolved over past five decades, OFA still focuses on four primary areas:

  1. Collect and distribute information regarding the orthopedic and genetic diseases of animals.
  2. Advise, support and develop control programs to reduce the incidence of orthopedic and genetic diseases of animals.
  3. Finance and support research in orthopedic and genetic diseases of animals.
  4. Solicit funding and allocate budgets to carry out the above objectives.

The national breed clubs are typically responsible for the development of genetic disease registries but the success of such programs usually falls on the shoulders of one or two individuals.  The creation of the OFA fills the need of breeders to have a reliable genetic disease registry.

OFA History

John M. Olin, a philanthropist and sportsman was the chairman of the Labrador Retriever Club of America's CHD committee in 1963.  He was the driving force behind the creation of a process to understand CHD and assist breeders in the control of CHD.  During the next two years, John Olin organized and funded a series of important meetings involving international experts from the areas of pathology, genetics, nutrition, skeleton development and veterinary practice.  Key members of the American Kennel Club also participated in the important discussions.

The meetings resulted in identifying three areas to address:

  1. Basic research was needed to help better understand the many unknown facts about CHD such as biochemical changes, endocrine effects, pathology and a clear CHD definition.
  2. Standardization of a protocol of radiographic evaluation of hip status.
  3. A centralized organization to fund the research and maintain a database not just limited to CHD or canine species.  Providing Public Service was also required.

An outcome of the successful meeting was the formation of the OFA, Orthopedic Foundation for Animals with support from the Golden Retriever and the German Shepard Dog Clubs.  Throughout the years, the OFA and John Olin funded many pioneering scientific studies to further understand and control orthopedic and genetic diseases of animals.  

A CHD control registry was provided by OFA as a public service in 1966.  In addition, a standard radiographic evaluation of hip status was proposed.  The CHD registry maintains the records on evaluations for many generations.  The hip registry recognizes those dogs which appear normal with no evidence of Hip Dysplasia or Legg-Perthes disease (osteonecrosis of the hip).

Public Use of OFA

There are certain dog breeds such as Labrador Retrievers that are more susceptible to "bad hips" or Hip Dysplasia.  Responsible dog breeders will have their breeding stock certified by OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). The chance of the offspring getting "bad hips" will be greatly reduced.

For potential owners of new dogs, they should protect themselves by asking for certificates on both parents from the OFA.  If certificates are not available, one can check the rating's on the OFA website, using registered names of the parents. The information found on the OFA's website is very reliable.