A few weeks ago I suggested it was time for new thinking regarding saving animal lives through the use of contraceptive drugs or non-surgical sterilization programs. I did a very brief search on the Internet and found the site of the
On it, one can find literally hundreds of pages exactly addressing this subject: the use of drug contraceptives and non-surgical sterilization methods.
In just one of dozens of papers abstracted below, the researcher contends that tens of millions of dollars would be saved by shelters across the country through a national implementation of non-surgical techniques of non-surgical birth control as opposed to spay/neuter.
Proceedings of the Third International Symposium
Dr. Janet Scarlett:
On the day preceding this session, researchers reported on the progress that has been made toward the development of effective non-surgical sterilants for dogs and cats since the second international symposium in 2004. Speakers in this session spoke to the reasons that non-surgical approaches to sterilization are so urgently needed; they reviewed data from recent or ongoing epidemiologic studies that provide estimates of the magnitude of homelessness and euthanasia among cats and dogs in the United States.
The session ended with an economic analysis of the costs associated with the development of nonsurgical sterilization compared to using those invested funds to surgically neuter more animals.
Epidemiologic studies are conducted to gather information about the frequency and causes of diseases or conditions. The conditions of homelessness (with its attendant suffering) and premature death (resulting from euthanasia) have been the subject of increasing numbers of epidemiologic studies over the past 10 years.
Dr. John New presented data from a study of over 6,500 American households providing estimates of birth rates among owned dogs and cats.
When asked about the planning that was associated with the birth of these litters, more than twice as many kittens were unplanned compared to puppies. These data highlight the need to reach a small but significant proportion of pet owners whose animals continue to reproduce despite the availability of surgical neutering.
Data are needed not only pertaining to owned animals, but also relating to unowned animals in animal shelters. Dr. Margaret Gruen described a feasibility study, funded by NCPPSP, that is currently under way to estimate the number of dogs and cats managed by animal shelters annually in the United States and their sources and dispositions.
This initiative seeks to develop a consistent, standardized surveillance system within a few select shelters throughout the country to monitor trends in the number and character of animals entering shelters and to enhance public awareness of issues regarding homeless pets. These data will include information regarding the numbers of intact animals entering shelters and provide estimates of the potential for non-surgical sterilants in the U.S. shelter opulation.
Shelter animals represent only one component of the homeless pet problem
Another prominent component, particularly with regard to cats, is free-roaming. Dr. Margaret Slater described the status of free-roaming cats. The number freeroaming cats is estimated to be at least a third that of owned cats. Free-roaming include owned, outdoor, formerly owned, and feral (never socialized to humans)
These cats are largely sexually intact and are believed to contribute substantially numbers of cats in shelters. In light of their numbers and high fertility, these one of the most important target populations for non-surgical sterilants. The population underscores the need for inexpensive, easily administered and safe nonsurgical products.
The need for non-surgical sterilants was emphasized in the preceding discussions, question remains: Can funds planned for investment in non-surgical sterilants more effective use to surgically neuter more animals? Using data from a variety sources and focusing only on the economic implications, if the $10 million non-surgical contraceptive research was invested in surgical neutering on an would more progress toward ending pet homelessness be made?
The answer resounding “no.” Having a non-surgical sterilant (with the properties discussed has the potential to save over $63 million per year in the humane and veterinary communities, said Joyce Briggs.
In summary, non-surgical contraceptives are urgently needed to save the lives of dogs and cats in this country. The investment of money in research to develop market one or more products will have economic returns well in excess of the and will save the lives of millions of dogs and cats in the U.S. annually.
If you read other articles on the site, you will find tons of research on methods already extant and working.. How many millions of dollars and thousands of lives saved could LAAS implement these techniques?