Royal Canin, a leader in health through nutrition, announces the launch of the Royal Canin Foundation designed to support the positive role of pets in human health and welfare. The launch of the Foundation is a concrete demonstration of Royal Canin’s commitment to being a purpose-led organization.
The Foundation is governed independently from the Royal Canin Company and aims to build human and social capital, which represents investments in knowledge, talent, diversity and relationships with stakeholders.
The Royal Canin Foundation has set three focus areas: the health and welfare of working dogs; pets in support of medical health; and pets in support of human mental health. The projects identified for funding will be selected on an annual basis. In 2021, close to 1 million USD will be put towards more than 10 projects from different parts of the world, including COVID-19 and cancer detection, raising healthy and happy assistance dogs, using dogs in training communication skills for children with autism, and developing certification for the trainers of medical detection dogs.
The Royal Canin Foundation is based in Aimargues, France, at the company’s headquarters and operates globally with partners, associations and institutions.
Fabrice Mathieu, Royal Canin Foundation Administrator and Royal Canin Sustainability Director, said: “At Royal Canin, we believe that pets make our lives better, that is why A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS is our purpose. With the Royal Canin Foundation, we are funding projects that support the positive role of pets in human health and welfare. We have chosen this focus because we want to highlight their role in society and their many benefits to our health and lives.”
Royal Canin Associates at the heart of the Foundation
Royal Canin wants its employees, Associates, to be the heart of the Foundation. This means that every Royal Canin Associate is given the opportunity to get involved from the early stages of proposing a project, through to voting for those that they believe should be supported by the Foundation.
For the Foundation’s inaugural year, Royal Canin’s Associates nominated 44 projects that were evaluated by the Board of Directors, according to the project’s alignment with key criteria including feasibility, impact, credibility and the Foundation’s purpose. A first group of projects were then selected for 2021 by a mutual voting process, governed by the Royal Canin Ethics and Compliance policy and the input of the Royal Canin Foundation board.
Royal Canin will dedicate close to 1 million USD to financing its foundation in 2021. At the moment all funding comes from Royal Canin but the company is looking to open the access to public funding in the future.
Selected projects answering long-term needs
With the Royal Canin Foundation, the company aims to create long-term value to the society and to human health. The selected projects cover crucial areas including the detection of COVID-19 or breast cancer by dogs as well as other projects such as using dogs in training communication skills for children with autism.
Some of the selected projects to be funded by the Royal Canin Foundation in 2021 are:
· Cancer detection (France): Breast cancer is the number one cancer occurring in women. Timely screening increases chances of survival. However, many women have no access to screening for various reasons including poverty, disability and lack of medical resources. Developing a non-invasive, affordable, and reliable method to detect cancer early could potentially save many lives worldwide. In that extend, breast cancer seems to release an odor that could be used for early detection..
KDOG project led by Institut Curie, Paris, France, aims at evaluating the capacity of trained dogs to remotely detect breast cancer from sweat samples.. After a successful proof of concept with more than 90% success rate, KDOG team is now pushing the science further by conducting a clinical trial in a screening like situation. Thanks to the Royal Canin Foundation’s support, Kdog aims to develop a scientific toolbox with tools and protocols, certification training and guidelines in dog medical detection for scientific communities working on medical detection around the world.
· Certified training for medical detection dogs (France, Canada): Dogs can detect a range of severe human diseases including cancer, seizures, Parkinson’s disease, COVID-19, malaria and early stage diabetes. However, dog handlers/educators involved in detection training are not always prepared for the specifics of human diseases, e.g. sense of work, confidentiality, traceability etc. The Institut Curie (France), Canadian Veterinary Colleges and Specialists supporting Dog Trainers, Medical Universities and Human Care Institutions for Medical Diagnostics and Treatment are partnering to implement a ‘Certified Medical Detection Dogs Handlers Training’ (MDHT). The aim of this MDHT is to provide a standardized methodology as well as to gather the required knowledge for the practice of this new discipline. This methodology will then go into the scientific toolbox developed by Institut Curie and available for any team willing to develop a detection protocol involving dogs.
· Training Medical Detection Dogs to detect COVID-19 (UK): Trained dogs are successfully used in the detection of, and assistance for, human medical problems. For example, dogs can sense small changes in volatile organic compounds produced by the human body associated with disease. Medical Detection Dogs is a charity that is at the forefront of innovative research into dogs’ ability to detect the smell of human diseases and save lives. The funding from the Royal Canin foundation will help to train Medical Detection Dogs to identify the odour of COVID-19, even when the person displays no symptoms. The dogs will then be deployed to public spaces to provide rapid, non-invasive screening of large groups of people for COVID-19. This could be an important step forward in the efforts to overcome this pandemic.
· Dogs in training communication skills for children with autism (Poland):Children with autism feel safe in predictable environments. Founded in 2008, Po To Jestem specializes in training dogs for Animal Assisted Therapy and socialization of guide dogs. Thanks to the Royal Canin Foundation support, they will be able to create a facility for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder where children can feel safe and work in comfortable conditions. They will also be able to welcome 20 more children and adolescents with autism and mental disabilities per week to work with specially trained dogs and acquire basic universal non-verbal communication skills.
The Royal Canin Foundation focus areas aim to increase knowledge in terms of the human/pet relationship and more globally the human/pet interaction in working situations. The knowledge and research gained from the selected projects will then be shared globally to ultimately benefit pets.
Join the conversations on social media by using the hashtags #PetsMakeOurWorldBetter and #RoyalCaninFoundation.
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