Insights to Innovation

ACC&D position statement:
600 Million Stray Dogs Need You

600 Million Stray Dogs Need You (600 Million), founded by PETA co-founder Alex Pacheco, claims to be developing “spay and neuter cookies” for dogs and cats. ACC&D is often asked about the work and claims of 600 Million, and here we’ll summarize what we know (and do not know) about this organization and its activities.

In general, we are highly skeptical of this organization’s claims and use of funds. We sincerely hope that the work (or lack thereof) of this organization does not tarnish the field of non-surgical fertility control for dogs and cats and the high-quality research being conducted, largely with financial support from the Michelson Prize & Grants in Reproductive Biology.

After several years of online fundraising, in September 2012, Mr. Pacheco and then-Scientific Director, Dr. Jeffrey Young, announced that clinical trials had begun on a “cookie” for dogs, and today the organization frequently solicits donations to continue conducting the research. The organization has demonstrated a lack of transparency, data, and results, plus a history of providing misleading information on the status of its progress and partnerships.

In December 2018, for the first time, 600 Million revealed some details about its approach for studying its “cookies.” It also provided more information about the “Pilot Pups” being used in its research. Based on information in the fundraising appeals, the active ingredients that the organization are studying are highly questionable, and its research methodology flawed. Moreover, its approach to obtaining research subjects—having its volunteers “rescue” “stray” dogs—raises serious ethical questions. Further details are in the December 2018 update, below.

To be sure, ACC&D appreciates the organization’s vision of managing free-roaming and feral populations more effectively and humanely through use of non-surgical tools. However, facts matter. 600 Million claims that it is working to develop a product that: 1) can sterilize a dog in a single dose, consumed orally, but will not have adverse effects if multiple are consumed; 2) will be safe if consumed by non-target animals (which would presumably include wildlife and humans); and 3) will be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Even assuming high-quality, ethical research, there are multiple reasons why reality cannot match the organization’s goals. Among them:

  • Mammals have many similarities in their reproductive systems. There is not yet a known way to create an oral contraceptive that works only in dogs, or only in cats. Thus a product designed to be consumed orally would place non-target species at risk, humans included. The risk would be exacerbated with the target population of “stray” animals that are the focus of 600 Million’s fundraising appeals.
  • A sterilant must be very potent to permanently sterilize in a single dose and has never before been achieved. In addition, an oral product is systemic, meaning it will reach many more parts of a dog or cat’s body than, say, an intratesticular sterilant that is injected directly into the testicles. This could yield adverse side effects. Consuming multiple doses could increase the risk.  
  • With an oral sterilant for free-roaming animals, it would be very difficult to ensure that an individual animal receives the proper dose. 
  • The FDA regulates most veterinary drugs. The FDA carefully evaluates safety and efficacy as part of a highly scientific review process. The issues noted above—and many others—would likely prevent FDA approval, which means that a product could not be sold commercially in the U.S. Regulatory approval to permit such a product would be a major challenge in other countries as well. 

ACC&D values scientific advancement, collaboration, and integrity. We have reached out to 600 Million personnel on multiple occasions, including inviting them to attend and present at ACC&D’s 5th International Symposium on Non-Surgical Contraceptive Methods of Pet Population Control. They declined. We encourage 600 Million to share better documented scientific information to support the progress they claim in their fundraising appeals. Based on past history with the organization, we are skeptical that their claims will match reality.

ACC&D has released periodic updates on 600 Million Stray Dogs, provided below. We invite you to read them; please note their date, however, and the fact that we cannot guarantee the information contained within is up to date.

  • December 2018: Holiday donation appeal provides research "details"

  • April 2017: Questionable expenses unearthed

  • January 2013: 600 Million ramps up fundraising and promises of progress...

  • April 2011: Update On "Super Birth Control Pill"...

  • December 2010: The science (lags) behind the story...

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