Of approximately 8 million cats and dogs that enter shelters every year in the United States, almost half are euthanized. The problem is even more severe in developing nations without the resources to tackle over-population and provide re-homing facilities. Spaying and neutering of pets helps to alleviate the problem by preventing further over-population. But spaying or neutering can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 per cat or dog, and require general anesthesia and an adequately equipped surgical facility. This creates obstacles including high costs, transportation of animals and inherent health risks involved with surgery.
The Found Animals Foundation Inc., a non-profit organization, was founded by animal lover, innovator, and serial entrepreneur, Dr. Gary K. Michelson. The foundation believes that a single dose, non-surgical sterilant that could be administered in the field at a reasonable cost would be an ideal solution to the over-population problem. The foundation is offering a $25 million prize to the first entity to provide a safe, effective, and practical non-surgical sterilant for use in cats and dogs, and up to $50 million in grant funding for promising research in pursuit of a safe, effective, and practical non-surgical sterilant for use in cats and dogs.
Animal health researchers have pursued pet contraceptives and non-surgical sterilants for years, but a breakthrough product has yet to emerge. By offering the Michelson Prize in Reproductive Biology, Found Animals hopes to encourage researchers from a variety of fields to take on the challenge of non-surgical sterilization for dogs and cats. By incentivizing scientists who may have been unaware of the issue of pet overpopulation to get involved, Found Animals hopes an innovative solution will come to light quickly.