Insights to Innovation

ACC&D position statement:
600 Million Stray Dogs Need You

Updated: 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You (600 Million), founded by PETA co-founder Alex Pacheco, claims to be developing “spay and neuter cookies” for dogs and cats. ACC&D is often asked about the work and claims of 600 Million, and here we’ll summarize what we know (and do not know) about this organization and its activities.

600 Million reports an initial focus on a sterilant for dogs; Mr. Pacheco and volunteer Scientific Director, Dr. Jeffrey Young, announced in September 2012 that clinical trials had begun, and today the organization frequently solicits donations to continue conducting the research. As of 2017, no data or progress on this work has been shared.

ACC&D appreciates the organization’s vision of managing free-roaming and feral populations more effectively and humanely through use of non-surgical tools. We would be thrilled if 600 Million could offer the product that it seeks funds to develop. Unfortunately, the organization has demonstrated a consistent lack of transparency, data, and results, plus a history of providing misleading information on the status of its progress and partnerships.

The organization’s aspirations and assumptions are lofty, including but not limited to: 1) a product that can sterilize a dog in a single dose, consumed orally, but will not have adverse effects if multiple are consumed; 2) a product that will be safe if consumed by non-target animals (which would presumably include wildlife and humans); and 3) a product approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

There are multiple reasons why reality cannot match these goals. Among them:
  • Mammals have many similarities in their reproductive systems. This is why, for example, progestin-based contraceptives have been used to prevent reproduction in dogs and cats (albeit not without side effects); many forms of human birth control also rely on progestins. There is not yet a known way to create an oral contraceptive that works only in dogs or cats. This would place non-target species at risk, humans included, especially with a product that can be eaten. 
  • A sterilant must be very potent to permanently sterilize in a single dose and has never before been achieved. In addition, an oral product is systemic, meaning it will reach many more parts of a dog or cat’s body than, say, an intratesticular sterilant that is injected directly into the testicles.  This could yield adverse side effects. Consuming multiple doses could increase the risk.  
  • With an oral sterilant for free-roaming animals, it would be very difficult to ensure that an individual animal receives the proper dose. 
  • The FDA regulates most veterinary drugs. The FDA carefully evaluates safety and efficacy as part of a highly scientific review process. The issues noted above—and many others—would likely prevent FDA approval, which means that a product could not be sold commercially in the U.S. Regulatory approval to permit such a product would be a major challenge in other countries as well. 

ACC&D values scientific advancement, collaboration, and integrity. We have reached out to Mr. Pacheco and Dr. Young on multiple occasions, including inviting them to attend and present at ACC&D’s 5th International Symposium on Non-Surgical Contraceptive Methods of Pet Population Control. They declined. We encourage 600 Million to share scientific information to support the progress they claim in their fundraising appeals. Based on past history with the organization, we are skeptical that their claims will match reality.

ACC&D has released periodic updates on 600 Million Stray Dogs, provided below. We invite you to read them; please note their date, however, and the fact that we cannot guarantee the information contained within is up-to-date.

  • April 25, 2017: Questionable expenses unearthed

  • January 22, 2013: 600 Million ramps up fundraising and promises of progress...

  • April 4, 2011: Update On "Super Birth Control Pill"...

  • December 22, 2010: The science (lags) behind the story...

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