ACC&D Flagship Initiatives
ACC&D's Flagship Initiatives help to advance our mission and this field. In some instances, these projects have evolved from Think Tanks
concluding with such energy and tangible recommendations for projects to enhance animal health and welfare, that we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take them to the next level!
This Flagship Initiative was established to advance efforts to manage free-roaming cat populations using methods that are humane, economical, and effective. Key to the initiative: evaluating the effect that multi-year non-surgical contraceptives (versus permanent sterilants) have on free-roaming cat population numbers. At the same time, however, the work we're doing is generating important information and insights on the dynamics of free-roaming cats and the effect that current approaches, including Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), have on population numbers. The team working on this flagship initiative includes experts on feral and community cats, wildlife biologists, and computer simulation modeling. Read on to learn more about this initiative and our plans for where it will go from here! This initiative began with a simple question: how do we identify and monitor dogs and cats, particularly free-roaming/community animals, who have been contracepted or sterilized without surgery? Since non-surgical products could be used without using general anesthesia, ear tipping or notching is out of the question; moreover, if an animal is treated with a multi-year contraceptive, we'll need a way to identify when he or she is due for re-treatment. It quickly became clear that an easy, fast, and humane method of marking could have great value for large-scale canine rabies prevention programs (to convey when an animal needs to be revaccinated) and more general population monitoring efforts. Read on to learn what we've done with this initiative to date, and what more we plan to do!
Our third Flagship Initiative was based on the promise of several studies demonstrating a contraceptive effect in female cats of a vaccine called GonaCon. To further evaluate this vaccine’s potential, ACC&D sponsored a study
which began November 2015 and wrapped up in 2017. We learned a lot about this vaccine and about creating a hybrid research model to humanely study a contraceptive in a cat colony. We have published two papers on the results. Regrettably, we concluded that the efficacy and duration of this contraceptive was not high enough for us to move to a next stage.
Our fourth Flagship Initiative is inspired by the ethical dilemmas faced when conducting our study of GonaCon in female cats and our marking and identification studies. To address the lack of guidance and tools we discovered when facing those ethical dilemmas, ACC&D held a Think Tank on ethical decision-making in innovation for animal welfare, from which a full-fledged project
for ACC&D has evolved.