Valiant volunteer efforts to control the rampant growth of street dog populations are active in several places in Mexico. Now, a new oral contraceptive might make the work easier.
The contraceptive is the project of student Sheila Irais Peña Corona, who chose to base the thesis of her master’s degree on the creation of a food product with contraceptive properties.
Working in the molecular biology and endocrine regulation laboratory of the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) in Iztapalapa with her supervisor, professor Héctor Serrano, Peña has only been able to work with fewer than 20 female dogs.
For that reason, she says, it’s too soon to announce the existence of a “contraceptive pellet” but she believes the results are promising.
Peña’s work is an extension of that of her supervisor, who has been researching a similar implementation of oral contraceptives on populations of bats, rodents and pigeons.
She explained that her intention is to inhibit one or two estrous cycles in female dogs with a minimal dosage added to the pellet-shaped dog food, preventing them from having pups for a year at least.
The oral contraceptive would be planted in streets where the dogs have become a public health issue, explained Peña, and their own natural quest for food would lead them to the pellets.
Other researchers at UAM and at the National Autonomous University of Mexico are also working to identify innocuous and non-invasive means to control dog populations.
No one knows how many street dogs there are in Mexico but the Mexico City Health Secretariat estimates there are over 1.2 million in its 16 boroughs, while the non-governmental organization Animal Heroes has estimated there are about 23 million street dogs throughout the country.
Common contraceptive measures such as surgical sterilization require qualified specialists and pre and post-operative care, while hormonal contraceptives have negative side effects on female dogs.
Source: Milenio (sp)