Is it possible that the solution to the overpopulation of companion animals could be found in a simple, low cost pill? 600 Million Stray Dogs Need Your Help believes it is not only possible, but very close to becoming a reality. An estimated 4 million animals are killed every year in shelters across the US. That’s about 1 every 8 seconds. (This estimate is according to the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States. The HSUS admits that there is no real system in place to accurately record the numbers so this can only be a rough estimate.)
Without a doubt, most shelter animal rescuers believe that a national spay/neuter program readily available to all pet owners is the single leading resolution to the killing that takes place in animal shelters from an overabundance of homeless animals and not enough adoptive homes. Some see the advancement of surgical procedures, the evolution of sterilization mobile vans and the nationwide promotion of the advantages to spaying/neutering your pet as the key reason why we only kill 4 million animals now as opposed to the 70’s when we were killing 12-20 million. (Note that the HSUS also claims the number of households owning pets has increased during this time from 67 million in the 70’s to 135 million currently.)
So the development of a pill that would chemically sterilize female dogs and that would be free to low income pet owners or provided at a low cost to restricted income pet owners might very well be the answer to our prayers.
But nothing is ever that easy, is it? Let’s examine some of the pros and cons of the DSP (Dog Sterilization Pill):
- DSP would make targeting difficult-to-reach communities and feral populations of cats and dogs much easier. According to Alex Pacheco, the founder of 600 Million Strays, the DSP will be in biscuit form and so even large communities of stray or feral dogs could be sterilized in a short period of time. There is also no risk to a dog eating too many of these biscuits. It cannot harm the dog no matter how many she eats.
- DSP would be far more cost effective for not only pet owners but for shelters, animal rescuers, feral colony managers and veterinarians. It would also be self-administered thereby reducing the cost of transporting to the vet as well as paying vet fees.
- Eliminates the risk to the dogs while under anaesthesia during surgical procedures.
- There are no known side affects. The DSP is perfectly safe to dogs and does not affect humans. It is also environmentally safe since the drug neutralizes immediately after targeting the dog’s organs and is quickly eliminated by way of the dog’s own natural means.
- Once the DSP is readily available to any and all who need it, the number of puppy litters being produced and dumped at local shelters should be reduced immediately. With fewer litters of dogs being dumped, shelters would have more room to take in more cats and cat litters without having to kill for space. That is until the CSP version is available.
- DSP would not control cases of cases of ovarian or testicular cancers, or decrease the chance of mammary tumors the way surgical sterilization does. In fact, the DSP makes no claims at all to having any long term benefits to a dog’s health other than the sterilization of the female dog.
- DSP would not reduce aggression, marking and roaming. Only female dogs are receiving this sterilization so male dogs would be still be intact with all of their inherent instincts.
- Obtaining approval from the FDA, the estimate cost is 5 million a year for 6 years and that is only the canine version of the DSP. The feline pill would have to undergo the same strenuous testing that the canine version has gone through and then also be put through the FDA for approval. That’s a lot of money coming from who knows where?
- Since the DSP has not even begun the FDA approval process yet, we are at least 6 years away from even being close to having access to it. That makes the DSP a hope and prayer for someday maybe but it is not an immediate solution. Between now and then, some 24 million dogs and cats will still die in shelters and that number is a conservative estimate.
- The DSP will not overcome the ignorance of people. Be it sterilization by pill or by surgery, there are still going to be people who believe it is against God’s Nature to sterilize their pets. There are still going to be people who say “I wanted my children to experience the joys of witnessing our pet give birth to a litter of pups” that we can neither keep or find homes for so will have to drop them off at the shelter the moment they are weaned.
In conclusion, despite the DSP being an exciting breakthrough in the sterilization of female dogs, it is still too far away from being made available to the public to be considered a viable alternative to the current overpopulation crisis we are dealing with.
However, until it is available, animal rescuers and advocates owe it to the animals to continue to promote not only the advantages of spaying/neutering companion animals but also to support and if possible, develop locally the No Cost/Low Cost Spay Neuter programs that are slowly becoming more and more successful at controlling the growth of homeless pets.
We also owe it the animals to support 600 Million Strays Need Your Help by raising awareness of this emerging technology and assisting in raising funds for the FDA approval process.