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New Drug Could Revolutionize Spay/Neuter Programs

“Mouseopause” induces menopause in female animals

(Photo by Tina Pellicone)

Scientists may have found a non-surgical way to sterilize female dogs – an advance that would have an enormous effect on the number of homeless pets being taken into shelters and then killed.

An article in the Arizona Republic describes how Dr. Loretta Mayer of Northern Arizona University was looking for a way to artificially induce menopause in laboratory mice when she and another scientist developed a drug that they realized also could be used to sterilize female animals.

Dr. Mayer had also been working in South Asia, where rats are a big problem in the rice paddy fields and farmers routinely put out poison. She took a version of the drug out to Indonesia, where it was successful in sterilizing rats and reducing their populations in the rice paddies. And she’s also been working with it in India to help eradicate the spread of rabies through stray dogs there.

A canine version of the drug is still years away from being approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and there have already been a number of false starts with chemical sterilants in the United States.

Neutersol, a sterilizing injection for male dogs, was approved by the FDA, but was taken off the market in 2005 because of a manufacturing disagreement and is now being marketed under another name outside the U.S.

GonaCon is being used on deer populations, and is being studied to see if it will work on cats and dogs.

Dr. Gary Michelson, a billionaire orthopedic spinal surgeon and founder of Found Animals, has offered a $25 million prize for the creator of an affordable chemical sterilant that works in male and female cats and dogs. His foundation also offers grants to allow scientists to do the research leading to a drug.

For more information, see this article in the Arizona Republic.