ACC&D Think Tanks

Identifying & Prioritizing Marking Methods for
Non-Surgically Sterilized Cats & Dogs

May 16-18, 2013

“How can a person tell that a dog or cat has been non-surgically contracepted?”

We’re asked this question frequently! Pet animals who are non-surgically sterilized while sedated can receive a small tattoo denoting their status. They can also wear a tag on their collar denoting that they have been sterilized and have the procedure noted in microchip data and veterinary records.

Of course, these identification strategies offer limited value for free-roaming/community dogs and cats, and the ear tipping or ear notching currently used to denote sterilization of free-roaming animals would be inhumane for an animal treated without anesthesia. Add in the fact that an animal might be treated with a multi-year contraceptive rather than sterilized, and the challenge becomes even trickier.

ACC&D’s 5th Think Tank delved into this topic, exploring potential new and/or improved methods for marking dogs and cats, particularly free-roaming populations, who have been treated with a non-surgical permanent sterilant or long-term contraceptive.

Preparation for the Think Tank included a complete literature review of marking and identification methods currently used in animals, plus crowdsourcing via an Innocentive Challengeto reach the global community and elicit novel ideas. The Think Tank itself was an interdisciplinary event, with experts from wildlife biology, reproductive biology, veterinary medicine, software design, animal handling, and humane population control for free-roaming cat and dog populations.

The Think Tank yielded consensus on initiating a project to explore optimized methods of safe and humane ear tags, with and without advanced options for external RFID, which you can learn more about in our Think Tank final report, the “Already sterilized or not? Methods of marking animals” presentation at the 5th International Symposium, and the “Marking and Identifying free-roaming dogs and cats” presentation at the 6th International Symposium. The possibility of using microneedle patches to tattoo a dog or a cat’s ear is also discussed in this latter presentation. Recognizing the need and potential for taking this initiative further, it is now an ACC&D Flagship Initiative—check it out to be in the know about what’s currently taking place!

Thank you to PetSmart Charities for sponsoring this Think Tank. 

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