Walk with Tarleton March 21 to raise awareness of degenerative myelopathy

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STEPHENVILLE (February 18, 2019) — Put a pair of sunglasses on your furry friend and join Tarleton State University’s communication studies department Thursday, March 21, in a walk to help increase awareness of degenerative myelopathy (DM) in canines.

Check-in begins at 9 a.m., and the walk takes place from 10 to noon at Stephenville’s Jaycee City Park on North Harbin Drive. KXTR 100.7 (The Planet) will broadcast live from the park. The free event is part of Tarleton’s annual Service Day.

“Our goal to help increase awareness of DM in the public and veterinarian community,” said Dr. Tracey Holley, assistant professor of communication studies and walk organizer. “DM is often misdiagnosed but can be found with genetic testing.”

A slowly progressive spinal cord disorder in dogs, DM resembles amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) in humans. The disease affects dogs between 5 and 14 years old, and initial symptoms include loss of coordination in back legs, wobbling when walking and knuckling of hind feet.

“While there is no cure for DM, intensive physical rehabilitation and properly fitted assistive equipment — booties, slings and harnesses, and even specially designed wheelchairs — can extend a dog’s life up to three years,” Holley said.

Holley has several friends who’ve lost pets to DM, including a corgi named KC who loved to wear shades and “dress up” in her wheels. KC’s owner started a support and awareness group called #ShadeOutDM to help raise awareness and promote testing by breeders to deter spread of the disease.

For more information on the walk, email Holley at holley@tarleton.edu. To find out more about #ShadeOutDM, check out Facebook.

Tarleton’s Service Day is part of efforts by the university’s Center for Academic Outreach and Engagement to build a culture of social responsibility by connecting academic programs with community needs. Service Day 2019 kicks off 10 days of community help, ending with Tarleton’s 21st annual Round Up — a student-led initiative — on Saturday, March 30.

For more info on this year’s efforts to give back to the community, go to www.tarleton.edu/weekofservice.

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