Nov 7, 2008
Billionaire surgeon, entrepreneur and inventor Dr. Gary Michelson recently announced that he is offering $25 million to the person or group who can come up with a safe, non-surgical, single dose sterilization method for male and female cats and dogs. The ”Michelson Prize in Reproductive Biology”, an international prize open to applicants from any country, will be awarded to anyone who invents a suitable oral or injectable sterilization method. To help get researchers started Michelson is also offering $50 million worth of research grants for promising research proposals.
Michelson's non-profit company, Found Animals Foundation, is partnering with WSPA member society the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs on the initiative. The ACC&D is a non-profit that has been committed to introducing non-surgical sterilization of cats and dogs for the past eight years.
"This is huge for our cause," said ACC&D president Joyce Briggs, who believes the Michelson Prize has the potential to generate the impetus needed for what she called “ground-breaking approaches in pet sterilization to emerge.”
Michelson, 59, ranks at no. 317 on this year's Forbes' 400 Richest Americans list. He, like most animal-welfare experts, believes that the introduction of a cheap, reliable pet sterilant will dramatically reduce the number of animals that US shelters are forced to euthanize every year, which presently stands at four to six million.
Studies conducted by experts from the ACC&D and other animal advocacy organizations have found that 27% of dogs and 14% of cats have not been spayed or neutered, with owners' reasons ranging from cost worries to fears about surgical safety.
“[Providing] a safe, effective solution via an injection, and without surgery, could reduce the cost of this procedure and simplify the logistics of providing the service (not to mention making sterilization less stressful to the individual dog and cat),” wrote Briggs on the ACC&D Web site.
"[Animals are] helpless. They depend on humans for a good life," Michelson told USA Today in a recent interview. "There's no limit to the number of good causes. I have to pick the one that makes me feel the best."