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Subsidised Desexing Program for merle & double merle dogs

In late 2018, Hear No Evil – Australian Deaf Dog Rescue’s Victorian team successfully applied for and received a $10,000 grant from the Victorian state government to subsidise the costs of desexing up to 20 dogs carrying the merle gene (both merle and double merle) throughout Victoria

Many dogs carry the coat pattern called "Merle": Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Corgi, Catahoula Leopard Dog, Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, Great Dane, Pomeranian and more...

Puppies from litters where both parents carry the merle gene have a 25% chance of ending up with two copies of the merle gene (double merles) and having one or more sensory issues.

Many of the dogs that come into care with the rescue are double merles that are deaf, blind, deaf/visually impaired or deaf/blind. Many of the dogs with vision impairment or blindness end up needing to have one or both eyes removed. 

The team at Keller's Cause, a non-profit organisation in the USA that has the goal of raising awareness about merle to merle breeding and promoting the adoption of special needs dogs has produced this video on double merles.

Whilst Hear No Evil – Australian Deaf Dog Rescue works hard to ensure double merle dogs can lead happy and normal lives, there is also a much greater chance of these dogs presenting with a range of neurological issues that can significantly impact their quality of life.

The funds from the grant are not specific to HNE dogs – anyone with an undesexed merle or double merle dog in Victoria that is at risk of producing a double merle litter can apply.

We spoke to a few beneficiaries of this program who shared their experience and would like to encourage Victorian owners to apply for the remaining ten grants.

Spud’s Story

Back in 2018,
 Kym Grundy rescued 12-week old Spud from a local animal pound. “I wasn’t looking for another dog as I already had a deaf Kelpie x at home but I saw a picture of her and I couldn’t leave her there!" said Kym. 

Photo (supplied) Kym Grundy: "Spud"
"I had been following the Hear No Evil Dog Rescue Facebook Page since I adopted my first deaf dog with the thought that I may want to adopt another one day. 

I first heard about their sponsored Desexing Program on their  page. Because I’d just had a new baby, money was tight so I thought I’d reach out for a little help. 

Hear No Evil Dog Rescue were great. It was a really simple process which involved them getting in touch with Spud’s vet to see if she qualified for the grant. 
Once that information was obtained, it all happened very quickly and all the costs were covered. I can’t thank the team enough for being so friendly and really helpful throughout the whole process. 

Spud was adopted at about 12 weeks old from a local pound. Unfortunately she hadn’t had all of her vaccinations and sadly she contracted parvo shortly after I got her.. I spent all of our savings helping her and she came through with flying colours! I knew Spud carried the double Merle gene and I also knew she was likely deaf.

Photo (supplied) Kym Grundy: "Little spuddy"
Actually this is probably what attracted me to her more because I knew it would be hard for her to find a home. 

Spud has something called starburst pupils which means she is also slightly vision impaired. This doesn’t affect our life too much besides having to cover in sunscreen! She is a wonderful dog, full of beans and so friendly. 

She does get scared in the dark sometimes as she can’t see too well at night, but she is an inside dog so it doesn’t affect her much. She is now learning sign language and her recall is actually quite good considering she can’t hear. Glass doors tend to fool her and she often runs into them which is how she got her name: little “spuddy”!

Spud is family pet and I would never would have wanted to breed from her so I'd have had her desexed anyway. However this program helped so much because money was so tight after I had my daughter. She's now 9 months old, Spud and her are the best of friends and will grow up together."

Waggin Tails Animal Rescue

Waggin Tails Animal Rescue is a newly established (November 2018) rescue group in Geelong, founded by experienced rescue volunteers, Beck and Maddi who decided they wanted to work with rural pounds as well as take on surrenders to help reduce the number of local animals in pounds. 

"We started by wanting to save just one dog a month from a pound but we've definitely gone well and beyond that number now!" explained Beck. "All our animals (mainly dogs) go into foster care mostly in Geelong and surrounding areas, but we also have foster carers on the surf coast and in Melbourne and surrounds. 

Many people considering adoption are not aware of the health issues associated with merle/double merle gene dogs. This can definitely hinder their chance of being adopted. People see the word "deaf" or "blind" and it turns them away. I guess a lot like humans with a disability people are quick to judge and there's quite a bit of stigma around it. We try and explain that these dogs are just like any other dog! Just the way they learn and do things may be a little different to your average dog. They may require a little extra love, but they give that love straight back to you tenfold. 

We are very open with any health issues our dogs may have and offer potential owners as much information as we can, as well as support after adopting a dog.

We were lucky enough to have three dogs desexed through this program subsidised by the Victorian government. As we’re only a small rescue, access to this program has been hugely beneficial not only to the dogs but to us as a rescue.

Receiving this financial assistance with desexing costs has allowed us to put more money into training and also extra vet care for the dogs. We found this has also helped the local community by bringing up the discussion of merle and double merle genes and the health effects breeding can have on these dogs. 

We have had people question why the dogs need to be desexed, which gives us the opportunity to educate people about the importance of desexing and explain the number of animals that are put down every day due to accidental litters and backyard breeding

Flora is a one year old Catahoula x (she was 10 months at time of desexing). Flora is deaf and has no hearing due to the double merle gene. She is also mostly white and requires to wear sunscreen during the hotter months of the year. 

Aurora is the same age as Flora (they are from the same litter) and both came from a rural NSW pound. Aurora is blind, although we believe she can see light, dark and shadows through one of her eyes. She also needs to wear sunscreen in the hotter months. 

Spencer is an 8-month old Great Dane x Catahoula. We believe there could be another smaller cross breed in there as well because he's very small for the suggested breeds. 

Spencer also carried the double merle gene, which caused him to be deaf

Spencer is also sensitive to light so he needs wear sunglasses and also requires sunscreen in the hotter months. 

Spencer and Aurora were both adopted last week-end which is a fantastic outcome!".

For more information about this subsidised desexing program (which concludes in October 2019) and to find out if your dog is a potential candidate, please contact the Hear No Evil – Australian Deaf Dog Rescue - Victorian team via email at

If you're ready to welcome a deaf or special needs dog into your home, then visit to find your purr-fect match. 

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