Non-surgical sterilization wait goes on with new hopes & many frustrations

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2004:

BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado– The good news about the
long-anticipated arrival of effective, practical, inexpensive
non-surgical birth control for cats and dogs may be that the bad news
is not worse.
One effective and safe chemosterilant for male dogs,
Neutersol, is now available to humane societies at reduced cost. A
similar product for cats is in development.
The early test results are “very favorable,” University of
Missouri at Columbia researcher Min Wang on June 27, 2004 told the
Second International Symposium on Non-surgical Contraceptive Methods
for Pet Population Control, held in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Immunocontraceptives for female dogs and cats are still just
over the horizon.
Breakthroughs anticipated five years ago unfortunately have
not materialized. Research involving porcine zona pellucida (pZP)
may be chasing a mirage, many dog and cat contraceptive developers
now believe.
ZooMontana director Jay Kirkpatrick showed in 1990 that pZP
can be used as a contraceptive in horses.
“Immunization of female mammals with purified glycoproteins
from the outermost layer of oocytes, namely the zona pellucida,
often results in autoimmunity and infertility,” explained Dalhousie
University biology professor Bill Pohajdak. “The three components of
zona pellucida from many species have been cloned and sequenced
Porcine ZP is widely used because of availability.

“We have successfully produced a single-administration,
long-lasting immunocontraceptive,” Pohajdak said, “that has been
shown to be effective for at least 10 years in seals and four years
in deer.”
Unfortunately, “Porcine ZP is not effective in reducing the
fertility of cats,” Pohajdak acknowledged
“Our research showed,” Pohajdak elaborated, “that while pZP
is highly immunogenic in cats, the resulting antibodies do not
cross-react with cat oocytes, nor do the antibodies reduce
fertility. Use of purified ZP from mammals closely related to cats
to improve cross-reactivity of the resulting antibodies also did not
reduce cat fertility” in his experiments.
Agreed University of Florida at Gainesville researcher Megan
K. Ross, “Although pZP is an effective immunocontraceptive antigen
in many species, pZP is ineffective in the cat.”
But Pohajdak and others are unwilling to abandon the idea.
“Feline ZP proteins might be different from the ZP of other mammals
in critical ways,” Pohajdak reasoned.
This is suggested by the ability of domestic cats to bear
litters of kittens in which each kitten has a different father. Most
mammals cannot bear litters with multiple fathers.
Pohajdak and collaborators have now identified “regions that
are unique to feline ZP” that “play a significant role in sperm
binding and fertilization.”
Concluded Pohajdak, “The development of a successful ZP-based
vaccine for cats requires a tailored suite of antigens based on the
unique properties of feline ZP.”
Katarina Jewgenow, deputy director of the Institute of Zoo &
Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, described an apparently
successful attempt to use feline zona pellucida in a recent
experiment undertaken as part of a neuter/return project at the
Tschernogolova research station near Moscow, Russia.
“Gonads from domestic cats were purchased from local
veterinary clinics to obtain ovarian oocytes and epididymal
spermatozoa,” Jewgenow related.
Nine cats were treated, released, and then recaptured and
surgically spayed six months later. Investigation of the tissues
removed during spaying found that “all female cats copulated
successfully,” Jewgenow said. Three cats were pregnant, three were
in a condition called psuedo-pregnancy, and two had recently
“Considering individual variations of immune response, the
investigated vaccine design was effective,” Jewgenow concluded.
However, the initially promising results must be confirmed
and followed up with tests involving much larger numbers of cats,
Jewgenow stipulated.

pZP in dogs

Trials of pZP-based immuncontraceptives in dogs have been
only slightly more encouraging than the trials in cats.
Hugh Wheir, DVM, reported on pZP trials he has conducted in
connection with sterilizing animals on a nonprofit basis in Mexico,
South Africa, and Native American reservations in the U.S.
southwest. In 1989 Wheir formed a nonprofit umbrella for his work
called the Animal Alliance, one of many U.S.-based nonprofits using
variants of the same name. Wheir was among the first veterinarians
to field-test Neutersol, beginning in 1991. His pZP experience,
however, has been less promising.
In South Africa, Wheir explained, “out of six dogs bred,
four dogs conceived and two did not. It appears that the
immunogenicity of the recombinant protein needs to be enhanced to
achieve a higher level of antibodies,” Wheir theorized.
Jeffrey Harris of Zonagen Inc. was less optimistic.
“One of the original goals at Zonagen was to develop products
using recombinant pZP proteins as antigens in an immunocontraceptive
vaccine for dogs and cats. Most of the pZP preparations produced no
effect. That is, all of the animals in most [test] groups quickly
became pregnant,” Harris said.
Two dog trials produced results that encouraged Zonagen to
continue immunocontraceptive research in primates, seeking an
immunocontraceptive for human use. At this point this appears to be
perhaps easier to achieve. Zonagen is no longer working on
immunocontraceptives for dogs and cats.
“A transient antigen-dependent infertility is produced by any
DNA,” University of California at Davis pathology professor Gary H.
Rhodes reported, based on results from a mouse study. “A long-term,
probably permanent infertility results from vaccination with plasmids
containing ZP genes. It appears that transient infertility induced
by DNA also occurs in dogs, but that longterm antigen-specific
infertility will be more difficult to achieve.”

What’s anti-GnRH?

Several other approaches to immunocontraception are under
study. Among them, the use of anti-gonadotropin-releasing hormones
(anti-GnRH) may have particular promise in applications for cats.
Henry Baker, director of the Scott-Ritchey Research Center
at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in Georgia,
described several anti-GnRH trials.
“All six [adult female] cats” used in one trial “remained
contracepted through the end of the 38-week study period and no
lapses in contraception were noted,” Baker said. “Estrus behavior
was absent.”
Ten three-month-old kittens were vaccinated in another trial,
including five males and five females. Their reproductive organs did
not develop during the four to five months that they were kept under
Among the males, Baker said, “All vaccinated kittens failed
to develp obvious secondary sex characteristics, including large
jowls, broad neck, thick skin, and penile spines. Fighting
behavior was noted to be absent in vaccinated cats, whereas
group-housed control cats had to be separated due to inter-male
aggression. Surgical castration performed at the conclusion of the
study period revealed severely atrophic testicles in all vaccinated
cats. In one cat, only one testicle could be identified at the time
of castration, but both testicles were present at the time of
initial immunization.”
Metamorphix Canada Inc. bioevaluation unit head Sarah Robbins
reported parallel findings from an anti-GnRH experiment on 15 cats.
Unlike many other conference presenters, who concluded their
presentations with slides of their test subjects, now happy and
healthy in homes, Robbins described “postmortem examination” of two
male and two female cats “at completion of the in-life portion of the

Delivery research

Stephen M. Boyle of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of
Veterinary Medicine acknowledged the potential efficacy of anti-GnRH
approaches, but noted that, “The delivery of these vaccines to
untrappable feral cats represents a unique challenge. The ability to
deliver these vaccines as an additive to food placed in the
surroundings of the feral cat would be a means to contracept them if
several hurdles could be overcome. These include choosing a form of
the vaccine suitable for oral delivery and targeting the vaccine to
cats and not other species.”
Boyle and team have experimented with using both the
salmonella typhimurium bacterium and the vaccinia virus as
immunocontraceptive delivery systems for zona pellucida-derived
vaccines. Neither of those approaches worked consistently well, but
Boyle is more hopeful about using the feline herpes virus (FHV).
“There is an approved FHV strain for cats,” Boyle said.
“Moreover, the literature reports that FHV only infects cats, and
offers the possibility of a species-specific contraceptive that could
be used on feral cats.”
Boyle is now collaborating with Katarina Jewgenow to try to
use FHV to deliver an immunocontraceptive vaccine derived from feline
zona pellucida.
Boyle has not worked with anti-GnRH, he said, but he
indicated that a similar approach to delivering anti-GnRH
immunocontraceptives might be developed.
“The use of feline herpes virus to deliver any antigen is
possible,” Boyle later confirmed to ANIMAL PEOPLE. “That the
approved FHV strain could be used was bolstered by the commentary [in
Breckenridge] by one of the Pfizer attendees that their company had
applied to field test a recombinant FHV construct engineered to
deliver feline immuno-deficiency virus/rhinotracheitis virus
components using FHV.”

Veterinary anxiety

Seeking immunocontraception via anti-GnRH is not a new
approach. Valerie A. Ferro has pursued similar work for 14 years at
the University of Strathcyde in Glasgow, Scotland, with virtually
no funding.
For four years Ferro received some support from Novartis
Pharmaceuticals, she acknowledged, but Novartis withdrew, she
indicated, because their veterinary clients were worried that
immunocontraceptives might cut into their surgical income.
Both Banfield/The Pet Hospital senior vice president Hugh
Lewis and Marvin Mackie, DVM, of Los Angeles, who introduced
high-volume sterilization surgery as a veterinary specialty more than
30 years ago, expressed similar concerns about veterinary income.
Mackie has not been enthusiastic about the introduction of Neutersol;
the Banfield chain, Lewis said, does not use it.
Mackie explained that a veterinarian typically builds a
profit margin into each aspect of doing a surgery. Replacing
sterilization surgery with an injection might reduce the number of
potentially profitable procedures per sterilization from 10 to just
“While routine,” continued Mackie, “each surgery does in
fact serve to teach or hone soft-tissue surgical skills. With each
surgery the veterinarian and staff are practicing their coordination
of anaesthesia, surgical prep, monitoring system hook-up, tech
support, and recovery. These training exercises are essential for
the smooth execution of less routine and more involved cases as they
ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton responded from the floor
that sterilization surgery is, overall, one of the least profitable
types of veterinary surgery; that the U.S. and the world have an
accute shortage of veterinarians, with no prospect of developing a
surplus for at least another generation; and that the most lucrative
and fastest-growing branch of small animal practice is providing
geriatric care, including doing surgery to combat cancer and correct
orthopedic conditions.
“More than half of the lifetime veterinary expenditure on a
dog or cat occurs during the last two years of the animal’s life,”
Clifton pointed out, “if the animal lives to at least age 10. Any
veterinarian who wants to spend time doing sterilization surgery
instead of doing geriatric care just has not looked at the economic
bottom line. The average private practice vet would be much better
off doing sterilizations by injection and spending the time saved to
treat more older animals.”

Surgery too slow

Surgical sterilization is the modus operandi of the federally
funded Animal Birth Control program in India. On paper, the ABC
program may be the most advanced approach to dog population control
in the world.
But the paper is not backed by enough hard currency, and
economic conditions in India suggest that the cash crunch will be
perennial. Even though surgical sterilization in India is usually
performed for less than $10.00 on female dogs and less than $5.00 on
male cats, the ABC program has never had sufficient budget to meet
public expectations.
In December 1997 the Animal Welfare Board of India resolved
that ABC could end animal control killing in India by 2005. The ABC
program was accepted as national policy just a few days later, but
the goal of ending animal control killing by 2005 will not be
reached, amid increasing political pressure seeking to resume
high-volume killing of street dogs.
Critics of the ABC program assert that it has not succeeded.
Where fully implemented, ABC has succeeded remarkably,
according to data assembled from Chennai, Jaipur, and Kalim-pong by
program initiator Chinny Krishna. As designer and builder of the
radio telescopes used by the Indian space program, Krishna is among
the few authentic rocket scientists working on dog and cat population
control– and has been working on it since his parents, both pioneer
aviators, founded the Blue Cross of India in 1959. His findings
have been affirmed by similar data from Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.
Unfortunately, efforts to institute ABC have often been
handicapped, even in the cities where it is most successful, by the
non-cooperation of municipal dogcatchers who are reluctant to put
themselves out of work, and by the scarcity of veterinarians in
India who know how to do high-volume and early-age surgical
sterilization, or know how to do any surgery in an antiseptic manner.

Surgical “limitations”

Surgical sterilization “has limitations,” asserted Bombay
Veterinary College representative Sarita Gulavane in a poster
presentation, “including a post-operative period of seven to eight
days, [a shortage of] space availability to keep dogs after surgery,
and having to catch stray dogs.”
McKee Project chair Gerardo Vicente, DVM, of Costa Rica,
responded that with proper veterinary training there is no reason why
the post-operative recovery time in India cannot be reduced to the
same seven or eight hours that it is in much of Latin America.
Having visited numerous Indian ABC clinics, including
several of the most successful, Vicente told ANIMAL PEOPLE that none
were operating with the efficiency and cleanliness that he considers
minimal, while even the best had complication rates that as a
teacher of sterilization technique he would not accept from any of
his students.
Of note is that Costa Rica trains more veterinarians per
capita than any larger nation, and has more resident veterinarians
per capita than the U.S. or Europe.
“Because we are not rich does not mean we have to accept
being Third World,” Vicente told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “In anything we
have control over, including using soap, hot water, and
disinfectant, we can out-perform the First World, and this is our
Regardless of the reasons for Indian surgical inefficiency,
Gulavane said, “The growth of the dog population outnumbers the
surgeries carried out per year,” except in the handful of cities
where privately funded ABC efforts have met the sterilization goals
that the government programs have rarely approached.
Some of the biggest surgical shortfalls and most heated
controversies over the presence of street dogs occur within a few
miles of the Bombay Veterinary College.
The Bombay SPCA, reputedly the leading provider of ABC
surgeries in Mumbai, performed only 736 castrations and 1,127 spays
in the 12 months from April 2003 through March 2004, for a total of
1,863– less than 20% of the number performed by many big-city
clinics in the U.S.
“In a city like Mumbai,” Gulavane declared, “where lots of
stray dogs roam, bitches are often fed by local communities. These
bitches are friendly and consume food offered to them, but resist
trapping. There is a need for a suitable oral contraceptive which
can be fed to the bitches for effective control” of reproduction,
without resorting to surgery.
Gulavane for the past three years has had volunteers feeding
an oral contraceptive called Centchroman to a testing cohort that
initially consisted of 50 street bitches, and now includes just over
20, as result of normal attrition. Gulavane has also fed
Centchroman to six bitches who are kenneled together with unaltered
males. So far, Gulavane said, none of the bitches have become
pregnant, and none have developed complications. The major drawback
of Centchroman appears to be that it must be fed to the bitches every
third day throughout each estrus.

Hormonal methods

Having to maintain frequent delivery and unanticipated side
effects have afflicted efforts to perfect dog and cat contraceptives
for 45 years, recalled Wolfgang Joechle.
Joechle has been working on animal contraceptives since 1959,
and has been publishing his findings since 1963. His first product,
a progestin-based “pill for pets,” was marketed in Europe in 1963
and was introduced to the U.S. in 1974.
“The treatments were very effective,” Joechle said, “but
the side effects were unexpected. In the U.S. a catastrophic
epidemic of pyometra forced the sponsor to withdraw the product and
it never appeared again. It became clear that the knowledge base
about female canine reproduction on which all this development hinged
was grossly insufficient. As a consequence, American small animal
practicioners lost confidence in hormone-based contraception.”
Mibolerone, a progestin product closely related to the
post-coital human contraceptive RU-486, arrived as a dog
contraceptive in 1978. It also produced undesirable side effects,
but that was the least of the trouble associated with it.
“The sponsor’s efforts to incorporate this drug into canned
dog food in the U.S. were not successful,” Joechle recounted,
skipping lightly over the furor that erupted in the 1980s when the
religious right alleged that young women were eating the
contraceptive dog food to give themselves abortions.
RU-486 was banned in the U.S. from 1988 until September 2000.
Mibolerone continued to be used in racing greyhounds, and was
available on a prescription basis, but was not sufficiently
accessible to most dog-keepers and humane organizations to be used as
a practical alternative to surgical spaying.
Testosterone esters were also used to suppress estrus in
racing greyhounds, beginning circa 1970, Joechle continued.
Prostaglandin was tried in 1973, “but adverse effects made using it
an in-hospital procedure, which never became widespread,” Joechle
Italian researchers experimented with the abortificant
triazole as a dog contraceptive from 1976 to 1988.
Prolactin was tried in both dogs and cats between 1974 and the mid-1980s.
Anti-GnRH analogs currently appear to be the most promising
class of contraceptives for dogs and cats, Joechle opined, but use
has been inhibited by high development and production cost.
Peptech Animal Health recently developed a relatively inexpensive
anti-GnRH analog called deslorelin, implanted in capsules, each
lasting about six months, Joechle said. “Approval for sale under
the trade name Supererolin was obtained in New Zealand and Australia
in 2003,” Joechle added.
Joechle noted that comparatively little investigation of
non-surgical contraception of male dogs and cats has been done. Most
of the work on products for male dogs and cats has focused on
injectible chemosterilants, such as Talsur, introduced in India in
1991 but quickly withdrawn when it caused painful testicular
swelling, and Neutersol, a much more refined application of similar

The future

“Looking back over the past 40 years of efforts to develop
non-surgical contraception in pets, certain trends and patterns can
be identified,” Joechle said. “Pet-keepers ask for reversible
contraception for a variety of reasons, and are prepared to pay for
it. They expect efficacy, defined as the assurance of the temporary
absence of the ‘nuisance’ of estrus, of infertility, and of safety.
Consciously or unconsciously, owners back off from ‘taking away sex’
“Sponsors may invest in this kind of product,” i.e.
reversible and appealing to keepers of purebred pets who may
eventually want their pets to breed, Joechle predicted.
Joechle was not optimistic that significant corporate funding
or veterinary enthusiasm would develop for low-priced, long-lasting
contraceptive products, suitable for high-volume use in street dogs
and feral cats.
“The future will belong to products which will return pets at
regular intervals to the clinician’s office,” Joechle insisted.
“This will allow the creation of an entire pet wellness program
around these visits, for the benefit of all parties.”

Funding crunch

While Joechle may actually have described the past more than
the future, a gulf in outlook was evident throughout the Breckenridge
conference between humane interests and the interests of for-profit
veterinarians and the pharmaceutical industry.
The for-profit sector as yet has little interest in
developing inexpensive, long-lasting or permanent
immunocontraceptives and chemosterilants, but may perceive an
interest in patenting applicable discoveries to keep cheap
competition off the market.
That means further research and development must be funded by
the nonprofit sector. But the handful of foundations that make
grants to humane work have just a fraction of the resources of the
veterinary pharmaceutical industry, and have relatively little
experience at funding research and development of any kind.
Summarized Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust executive
director Richard Obermanns, “Approximately 10 prominent animal
protection foundations and other charitable funders gave tangible
support to research and development of non-surgical contraception or
sterilization products for companion animals or wildlife from 2001 to
“Seven supported research for dogs or cats, five supported
research for wildlife species, and three did both,” Obermanns
continued. “Their total charitable funding commitments from 2001 to
date are estimated at between two and three million dollars,
tapering to the low end of this range currently due to diminished
foundation resources and the withdrawal of several funders.
“These figures,” Obermanns said, “indicate the need to
attract charitable dollars from new sources. The foundations now
funding such work remain pinched, with assets still below pre-2001
levels, and existing commitments to other hard-pressed humane
organizations. Cultivating new sources will require a marketing
strategy all its own,” Obermanns predicted.
“Impediments may include ethical concerns about research, even that
which is intended to benefit animals, and a different ‘culture of
funding’ surrounding university-based projects vs. grass-roots humane
organizations,” Obermanns said. He pointed out that funding
animal-related projects does not have high status in philanthropic
In general, university research requires budgets far larger
than the grants usually made by foundations that fund humane work.
Very few university projects operate on budgets of less than $10,000,
but few humane foundations make larger grants, or have the endowment
income to be able to make many larger grants, even if they stop
making grants for everything else that they currently fund.

Winning approval

Just meeting the regulatory requirements necessary to use a
new immunocontraceptive or chemosterilant could cost several hundred
thousand dollars, after completing the development work.
David Petrick, a veterinarian and attorney with extensive
experience in implementing U.S. and European Union regulations,
explained the procedures.
Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug
Administration have relevant regulatory responsibilities. The USDA
and FDA coordinate their examination of new products through an
interagency memorandum of understanding.
“When a product for pet contraception starts through the
approval process, the specific targeted claim will have a huge
impact on the program of development,” Petrick advised. Regulatory
considerations will include the safety of both the animals for whom
the product is intended and humans who may have contact with it,
including in the manufacturing process; the efficiacy of the
product; the duration of the effects; and the reversibility of the
effects, Petrick said
“Just as important as the demonstration of safety and
effectiveness will be the data showing that the product can be
manufactured consistently and under strict control,” Petrick
emphasized. “The facility that will produce the final product will
need to be approved by either the FDA or the USDA, and will need to
be capable of producing batches on a consistent basis, meeting the
manufacturing regulations for the respective agency.
“Sponsors must seek a collaborative effort with the
regulators,” Petrick said. “This is especially important when
dealing with unique molecules, or when moving into claims that have
not been approved by the agency in the past, as is the case with
most pet contraceptives.”
Petrick suggested that the introduction of user fees for
product review and approval will expedite the U.S. regulatory
process. Under the Animal Drug User Fee Act of 2003, the FDA Center
for Veterinary Medicine anticipates charging annual fees of about
$20,000 for product sponsors, $15,000 for manufacturing facilities,
$6,000 for each product, and $30,000 for each supplement.
“In return for these new revenue streams,” Petrick said,
“CVM has committed to Congress that they wil improve their review
times and become more efficient.”
“Registration fees have been a fact of life in the European
Union and various other countries around the world for decades.
[FDA] user fees for the human pharmaceutical industry are orders of
magnitude higher, and have been in place for several years.”

Going abroad

Using a new immonocontraceptive or chemosterilant outside the
U.S. will require going through still more agencies.
“The regulatory framework is in constant evolution,” said
Cyton Biosciences Ltd. founder Raymond Harding. “Just about the only
thing that remains true over the years is that the task will only get
harder. The regulatory framework of veterinary medicines in Europe
follows the human example. Indeed, as far as data chemistry,
manufacture, and control are concerned, there are no differences.
When it comes to safety and efficacy, the principles are comparable,
though the data requirements for products for companion animals are
significantly less than for food animals and for products intended
for humans.
“Certain of the data requirements are being harmonized
between regions of the world,” Harding added, noting cooperation
among the regulatory agencies serving the U.S., E.U., and Japan.
“This means that when certain data on chemistry, manufacture, and
control, safety, and clinical efficacy are generated to meet the
requirements” of any of the participating agencies, “those data will
be satisfactory for submission virtually throughout the world.
Clearly, this can simplify the development program for any
veterinary medicinal product. This will avoid the need to repeat
expensive clinical trials on products for contraception in companion
“Safety data requirements in Europe are more onerous than in
the U.S.,” Harding opined. “Since the objective will be to treat
healthy animals, no adverse effect of any kind will be tolerated.
If repeat treatment is to be recommended, say annually, this could
lead to long-term safety studies.
“A major difference between the U.S. and Europe,” Harding
said, “is that safe ty to the [human] user must be demonstrated in
Europe,” to an extent going beyond the parallel U.S. requirements.
“For a product to be administered parenterally,” Harding explained,
“the safety of possible accidental self-injection will have to be
demonstrated. In the case of a product to be administered orally,
care will have to be taken to minimize risk to children who may be
exposed to it. In the case of a product that is released into the
environment for reproduction control in wild or feral animals, there
will need to be extensive data to show safety to wildlife. This will
be comparable to the work on environmental safety that has been
carried out in, for example, the case of oral vaccination of foxes
and raccoons against rabies.
“It will not be enough to simply propose a dose that is effective,”
Harding warned. “It must be shown to be the lowest effective dose.
This will be difficult for immunological approaches, since an
all-or-nothing response is frequently encountered.”
Big-group role?
Four years ago, in June 2000, four of the founders of the
Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs met for the first time at a
Spay USA conference at Bentley College in Massachusetts.
Stephen Boyle, Brenda Griffin of Auburn University, Terry
Nett of Colorado State University, and Julie Levy of the University
of Florida at Gainesville dazzled an audience of humane workers with
the hope that new chemosterilants and immunocontraceptives would be
on the market within as little as two years. The new products would
be inexpensive, injectible, and permanent, ideal for sterilizing
street dogs and feral cats, even in places where there are no
Two months later the ACCD formed in Blacksburg, Virginia,
at a meeting sponsored by the Geraldine Dodge Foundation, convened
by Boyle and hosted by Virginia Technical University.
Reality arived at the First International Symposium on
Non-surgical Contraceptive Methods for Pet Population Control, held
at Pine Mountain, Georgia, in 2002.
“A commercialized alternative to surgical castration or
ovario-hysterectomy for either dogs or cats” may still be 10 years
away, AlcheraBio senior partner Linda Rhodes, DVM, warned the
In fact, Neutersol was only one year away. But nothing else
is really close.
Whether any of the other promising approaches will be
available sooner than Rhodes predicted, none of the Breckenridge
speakers cared to speculate.
Of note, however, is that the number of senior
representatives of the half dozen richest humane organizations in the
world who attended the Breckenridge conference was about five times
larger than the number of low-ranking field representatives who
attended the 2000 Spay USA conference in Bentley.
The American SPCA and Massachusetts SPCA each sent a vice
president to Breckenridge. The Humane Society of the U.S. sent two,
including chief of staff Andrew Rowan, and sent a team of field
representatives as well. The Royal SPCA and Inter-national Fund for
Animal Welfare attended, apparently for the first time.
PETsMART Charities and the North Shore Animal League America,
sponsor of Spay USA, have always been involved.
The top researchers now have the attention of the leading
organizations in raising funds from the public, and senior
executives of those organizations have now heard from the researchers
why the for-profit sector is not emphasizing development of
immunocontraceptives and chemosterilants to help street dogs and
feral cats.
Ahead, the nonprofit executives must decide if they will
step in, risking the wrath of adamant opponents of any kind of
animal research, betting that donors will understand and respond to
the opportunity to produce faster, cheaper ways of reducing dog and
cat overpopulation.
All of them have made similar commitments before. HSUS was
an early funder of Neutersol development, and has long supported
immunocontraceptive research involving deer and wild horses. The
Massachusetts SPCA was instrumental in validating and popularizing
early-age surgical sterilization.
Marvin Mackie, DVM, likened the struggle to introduce
alternatives to surgical sterilization to the 15-year battle to
persuade fellow vets to accept early-age sterilization. In either
situation, changing the paradigm required funding science. After
the MSPCA did the science, at Angell Memorial Hospital, early-age
sterilization won the endorsement of all of the major veterinary
associations, with ripple effects felt around the world.

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