If, rather than a single product that meets every need, there were several products with specific complementary targets, the world’s strays would still be better off by several orders of magnitude. An injectable sterilant for male puppies, for instance, and an implant that keeps female cats sterile for three years would be huge steps forward.
“It’s like you’re working toward a car that will get 100 miles per gallon and in the meantime, someone comes up with one that gets 60. That’s pretty great,” says Zawistowski. “I’d still get pretty excited about that.” Briggs and others think it will be about 10 years before an effective, all-purpose product is approved for use in the United States, with much of that time consumed by regulatory issues.
For many veteran animal rescuers, the idea of handing out dog-biscuit sterilants instead of appealing for donations, volunteers, operating space, a skilled vet, anesthesia and towels would be a lifetime dream fulfilled.
“After 25 years in animal welfare in Puerto Rico, I have probably spent thousands of hours and much of my personal income on getting as many dogs and cats sterilized as possible — because it’s the only way we can begin to address the horrible problems we have here,” says Edilia Vazquez, president of All Sato Rescue. “If we could stop that and put all our time and money into other programs, like education and enforcement of our animal cruelty laws, we would have a real chance.”