Frequently Asked Questions

Question #1: What is the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs?
Question #2: Where is companion animal overpopulation a problem?
Question #3: Who is working on this issue and what approaches are they taking?
Question #4: How long has research on non-surgical sterilization been going on?
Question #5: Are some products already available?
Question #6: Are these products safe?
Question #7: Will I be able to sterilize my pet at home?
Question #8: Why non-surgical sterilization instead of spay/neuter?
Question #9: Will animal testing be required to develop non-surgical contraceptives?
Question #10: What can people do to reduce companion animal overpopulation today?
Question #11: What does ACC&D plan for the future?
Question #12: How can I help ACC&D reach its goals?


Question #1: What is the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs?
Answer: ACC&D is a catalyst for collaboration to speed discovery of non-surgical contraceptives for cats and dogs which will have a significant impact on reducing the millions of excess cats and dogs destroyed in shelters each year, as well as feral cat and dog populations living without human care. We work to expedite the successful introduction of methods to non-surgically sterilize dogs and cats through facilitating research; providing scientifically sound and animal welfare-oriented resources to stakeholders in animal welfare, animal health, and public health; and supporting the appropriate distribution and promotion of products suitable for the humane control of cat and dog populations.

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Question #2: Where is companion animal overpopulation a problem?
Answer: If “overpopulation” is defined as more animals than humans find convenient, most of the world has overpopulation. Feral (unsocialized to humans), stray, or homeless cats and dogs are present to a greater or lesser degree in every country on earth. In the U.S. alone an estimated 4 million dogs and cats die in animal shelters every year. It is estimated that there are tens of millions of feral cats in the U.S., while feral dogs are a rare phenomenon. In countries such as India, however, that ratio is reversed.

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Question #3: Who is working on this issue and what approaches are they taking?
Answer: At ACC&D’s 4th International Symposium on Non-Surgical Contraceptive Methods for Pet Population Control in Dallas, Texas, more than 185 representatives from universities, animal welfare organizations, foundations, companies, and government agencies from 25 countries gathered to share information and plan for the future. Read highlights and proceedings of the symposium by clicking here.

 

In 2008, the Found Animals Foundation announced the Michelson Prize and Grants in Reproductive Biology. The Michelson Prize offers $25 million to the first entity to provide a single-dose sterilant for male and female cats and dogs. The Michelson Grants program offers up to $50 million to support promising research in this area. Over 18 research projects have been approved for funding to date. For more information on the Michelson Prize and Grants Program, click here.

 

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Question #4: How long has research on non-surgical sterilization been going on?
Answer: Efforts to control reproductive functions in pets non-surgically began around 1960, when oral contraceptives (“the pill”) became widely available for women. Since then, scientists in numerous countries have taken varying approaches to develop effective, permanent contraceptives for cats and dogs. A summary of past research efforts can be found in the attached document. In the past ten years, the pace of work in this field has taken a huge leap forward.

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Question #5: Are some products already available?
Answer: Thorough investigation and approval of products is time-consuming and expensive, and requires substantial investment not only from scientists, but also from pharmaceutical companies and investors. Three products providing 1 year or longer contraception or permanent sterilization in cats and/or dogs have been approved: Esterilsol (as it is known outside the U.S.) and Zeuterin (it's U.S. name) is a non-surgical sterilant for male dogs approved in the U.S., Mexico, Bolivia, Panama, and Colombia; Infertile is a non-surgical sterilant for male dogs approved in Brazil; Suprelorin is a contraceptive implant for male dogs lasting 6 or 12 months (both doses available) approved in Australia, New Zealand, and the European Union. To learn more, click here.

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Question #6: Are these products safe?
Answer:
No medical intervention is entirely free of risks or side effects. Risks and benefits must be weighed for any intervention, including surgical sterilization. For any product to receive regulatory approval, it must meet criteria for safety and efficacy. The rigor and process for regulatory review varies by country.  For a product to meet ACC&D's priorities for population control, it must have the same or less risk than surgical sterilization. By the time any individual product is introduced to the market, specific safety data is available for that product. Different approaches will vary in their action, their contraindications, side effects, and non-reproductive effects.
 

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Question #7: Will I be able to sterilize my pet at home?

Answer: For several reasons, it is most likely that non-surgical contraceptives/sterilants will be limited to administration by a licensed veterinarian. It is possible that certain individuals will be able to administer treatment under the supervision of a veterinarian, and/or after having received special certification.


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Question #8: Why non-surgical sterilization instead of spay/neuter?
Answer: Surgical sterilization (spay/neuter) requires technical expertise, equipment, time, and recovery space. In many parts of the world, including parts of the U.S., veterinarians are not available at adequate levels for widespread, low-cost surgery. Spay/neuter is a safe and effective procedure, though it presents some risk of complication and carries with it both benefits and risks in terms of various health and behavioral effects.

The ideal contraceptive product would rapidly induce permanent sterilization in a single dose, eliminate fertility and provide beneficial non-reproductive effects. It would be effective in dogs and cats of both sexes and all ages (at least 8 weeks and above), and would be safe and easy to administer. However, it is much more likely that products that will be developed will meet some but not all of these criteria. ACC&D believes that "users" of any contraceptive or sterilant method need to have information about that methods mechanism of action, administration, contraindications, potential side effects, and non-reproductive effects so that they can make informed decisions. 

Our intent is not to replace spay/neuter, but to increase the "tools" available to veterinarians and pet population control programs to achieve their goals, extending reach and conserving resources.


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Question #9: Will animal testing be required to develop non-surgical contraceptives?
Answer: Development of contraceptive products for cats and dogs will require trials on cats and dogs. Safety and efficacy could not be established without such use. Additionally, data from trials of a formulation in the target species is required for regulatory approval. However, it is possible to limit use of live animals to cases in which it is truly necessary and to ensure humane treatment of any animals involved. The Michelson Prize & Grants Program, which funds most of the research in this field, has very high standards for animal use in studies it funds.

To read ACC&D's position statement on animal use in research and to access the Michelson Prize & Grants Program animal use standards please
click here.


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Question #10: What can people do to reduce companion animal overpopulation today?

Answer: Surgical sterilization (spay/neuter) is effective and widely available in most areas of the U.S. The best contribution the public can make is to spay/neuter cats and dogs—owned, stray, and feral.

Cats and dogs can become pregnant far earlier than most people realize. Never allow “just one litter.” Early age spay/neuter (two months or two pounds) is safe and effective, and has been endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association for more than 20 years.

Contact your veterinarian or search for spay/neuter programs and assistance at www.peoplesavingpets.org, www.pets911.com (or call 1-888-PETS911) or at www.spayusa.org

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Question #11: What does ACC&D plan for the future?
Answer: You can learn more about our work by visiting the About page on this site. You're also always welcome to contact us with questions or comments.

Please join our email list for free email updates on ACC&D and progress in non-surgical contraception. (We will not share your personal information with third parties.) Use the box on the right side of this page to subscribe.


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Question #12: How can I help ACC&D reach its goals?
Answer: One of our favorite questions! ACC&D was formed to expedite development and introduction of safe, effective non-surgical contraceptives. But we need your help! Please visit our Get Involved page to find out how you can help make this dream a reality. 

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