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  • Writer's pictureErin Schwartzkopf

The Non-Profit That Has My Heart

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

We all have that one cause that just speaks to us. Let me tell you a little about the one that means worlds to me.

The animal owner community is an amazing network. It truly is. There are so many phenomenal causes and organizations out there for an incredible amount of reasons. Some are very general and encompass all animals in general. Others are niched down by domestic or wild animals, large or small, livestock or companion, purpose, or breed. There is an absolutely endless number of directions that the causes and groups can spread out into. If you are reading this blog post, you are likely an animal lover to some extent. You also likely know and understand that we cannot support every one of them, so we pick those that are nearest and dearest to us. Let me tell you about mine.

First, a little background

If you hadn't noticed yet, the Jack Russell Terrier is my chosen breed. There are many different breeds that I love, but the Jack Russell Terrier is the one that is in my home and is the reason for a large portion of my travelling and my friendships. I photograph a good number of them every year and know the names of them all. A spunky little dog that is bred to hunt, they are also a pretty healthy breed. But every breed has it's health issues, even mixed breeds. Fortunately, we have breeders and facilities and individuals committed to mitigating as many of those issues as possible and the bonus of all of this work is that it can often times benefit other breeds. Sometimes, even all dogs, as in the case of Degenerative Myelopathy.

Enter The Jack Russell Terrier Research Foundation

The Jack Russell Terrier Research Foundation was incorporated in 1997 with the purpose of "The Jack Russell Research Foundation will encourage, promote and support the development and/or maintenance of research related to genetic defects found in the Jack Russell Terrier by, among other means, making gifts or grants to other Section 501(c)(3) organizations engaged in such research.

Through public education our goal is to minimize hereditary disorders to the Jack Russell Terrier resulting from misbreeding." on their website. In 2004, the JRTRF created the only breed owned DNA bank. It is kept at the University of Missouri and DNA that is submitted by JRT owners is used to help researchers isolate genetic mutations that are the reason for genetic diseases.

While the DNA bank is strictly JRTCA Jack Russell Terrier DNA, the research done using this information helps not only our breed, but others as well. And sometimes it helps all dogs, even mixes. In 2008 the genetic mutation for Degenerative Myelopathy was isolated by UoM researchers, thanks in part to the DNA provided by the JRTRF DNA bank. DM is a heartbreaking disease that is more common in some breeds than others, but has been found in every breed as well as mixes.

What this means is that the work The Jack Russell Terrier Research Foundation does is far reaching...well beyond just the breed...which means that dog owners everywhere have the ability to get answers, make treatment plans, and make better breeding decisions for the healthiest, happiest, longest lived doggers possible. And that makes this dog lover's heart swell and is why I now donate a portion of all of my sessions to the research that is so important but also expensive can continue.

If you would like to learn more about The Jack Russell Terrier Research Foundation or make a donation, just head to their website,

Many pet photographers have causes that are near and dear to them and their stories are often very heartwarming and uplifting. If you would like to read more, Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography celebrates eight years supporting her home town rescue, Coppell Humane Society; enjoy this walk down memory lane. Once you have read Tracy's story, follow the link at the bottom to get to the next one. Keep doing that until you wind up full circle, right back here!

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