Billionaire Offers $75 Million to End Pet Overpopulation
Every year, six to eight million unwanted cats and dogs enter shelters in the U.S., and three to four million are euthanized according to the animal welfare organization Found Animals.
Now American billionaire Gary Michelson -- a surgeon who has invented hundreds of patented medical devices and procedures -- has decided to tackle the problem with $75 million of his own cash!
Through the organization he created, Found Animals, Michelson is offering $50 million in research grants to scientists with promising approaches for inexpensive, one-dose, surgery-free methods of sterilizing cats and dogs. The first team to succeed in creating a sterilant that works in both dogs and cats, male and female, will walk away with $25 million in prize money, Shirley Johnston, director of scientific research for Found Animals, tells Paw Nation.
Why the need for non-surgical sterilization? Spaying and neutering is important, but the procedures alone can't solve the huge animal overpopulation problem. Surgical sterilization is expensive and it requires access to anesthesia and proper veterinary facilities. That's not practical in many rural areas of the U.S., let alone in the developing world.
"China may have 150 million dogs, and very few are sterilized. India has 30 million street dogs," Andrew Rowan, chief scientific officer of the Human Society of the United States [HSUS], tells Paw Nation. "In places like India and Africa, there's an active rabies problem; in India, for example, there are 20,000 [human] deaths to rabies every year."
In addition to human health impacts and the tax burden of keeping stray animals in check, animals themselves suffer from overpopulation. Rowan estimates that as many as one to two million of the cats and dogs euthanized in the U.S. each year are healthy and adoptable. And around the world, millions of nuisance strays are shot or poisoned, Science magazine reports.