Joyce Briggs and the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs (ACC&D)
Joyce Briggs, president of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats & Dogs (ACC&D), is striving to change how we view and treat fertility in cats and dogs. Her mission, and the goal of the organization, is to advance non-surgical fertility control to effectively and humanely reduce the number of unwanted cats and dogs. Animal overpopulation is a critical issue, and not every community has the resources for animal sterilization surgery, which requires skilled veterinary surgeons, surgical supplies and recovery space. In addition, not all animals can safely receive anesthesia, due to congenital conditions or overall poor health.
Briggs became interested in alternative approaches to animal sterilization as a result of her involvement with PetSmart Charities, a nonprofit animal welfare organization dedicated to saving the lives of homeless pets. Her experience with that charity, as well as her work for the American Humane Association, helped her to realize that current funding efforts for spaying and neutering are not enough and inspired her to try and raise money for visionary animal welfare policies in the smartest and most efficient ways possible.
Exploring the frontiers of veterinary medicine
The ACC&D serves as a resource for the public, veterinarians and shelters interested in alternatives to traditional sterilization procedures and helps promote research. The organization also helped inspire the Michelson Prize – which has designated $50 million in grant funding and a $25 million prize to the researcher(s) who can develop a low-cost, permanent, non-surgical sterilant for male and female cats and dogs. ACC&D brought the idea of a prize and related research funding for a non-surgical animal sterilant to Dr. Gary Michelson, who started the Found Animals Foundation.
There are several approaches for controlling animal fertility, including immunological (vaccines), hormonal (implants), steroidal (injections) and chemical. However, Zeuterin, an intratesticular injection, is currently the only non-surgical sterilant approved by the US Food & Drug Administration. It is being used to sterilize male dogs. Other drugs such as Suprelorin – an implant designed to prevent fertility and suppress libido in male dogs – has been approved in Australia, New Zealand and the European Union.
According to Briggs, “Culture also plays a key role in how communities approach sterilization. Spaying and neutering is less accepted in Europe than in the United States and in some countries, the practice is seen as cruel and inhumane.”
The ACC&D is also exploring creative approaches to help indicate whether a cat or dog has received treatment such as a Zeuterin injection or vaccination. The organization collaborated with Cornell University researchers to create an affordable, sturdy and highly visible ear tag for marking and monitoring treated dogs. The marker helps workers identify – quickly and at a distance – free roaming animals that either have or have not received vaccines and birth control.
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