Found Animals, what a great story! An orthopedic surgeon invents new tools for his craft, becomes a billionaire, and decides to start a Foundation to benefit animals. Money or no, the surgeon works on the mission and programs from his kitchen table for three years, finally hires an executive director and starts things off with a $75 million dollar bang! Gary Michaelson, one of Forbes 400 richest, is the founder of Found Animals Foundation. There’s an article on their website that quotes Michaelson, saying the money needed to capture, house, feed, and kill pets in sheltering systems nationwide is “staggering”, that we should be able to find a “more humane” way (Sciencemag.org, 18 Sept 2009, David Grimm).
I spoke with Aimee Gilbreath, Executive Director of Found Animals, who explained that the Michaelson Prize and Reproductive Biology grants work hand in hand to spur research from a wide range of scientific fields. Grants, $50 million dollars worth, are awarded for promising research that might not otherwise get funded, and that may open new pathways to a single-dose solution to spay/neuter for cats and dogs, and the $25 million dollar prize. That’s quite an incentive.
Found Animals Partners in Solutions to Euthanasia and Pet Overpopulation
The Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs (ACC&D), a not-for-profit that has been working in this field for the past 10 years, promotes and supports the distribution of new contraceptive products. Finding solutions to overpopulation lessens the need for euthanasia and has added value in reducing incidence of rabies for both animals and humans. ACC&D is, as I believe Aimee said, a perfect partner for Found Animals with their expertise in the field, science advisory board, and goals.
Having a grant of this size sparks a lot of interest from the best and brightest in their fields. Found Animals and ACC&D decided to work together on an international conference.
Found Animals and ACC&D Plan International Symposium on Pet Overpopulation
What happens when you get a room full of scientists from many fields, animal welfare groups, Zoo representatives, pharmaceutical companies, Vets Beyond Borders, medical school representatives, veterinary colleges, specialists from 25 countries all working toward a solution to the pet overpopulation problem? Aimee calls it ideation. You’ve probably experienced it – when a thought sparks an idea, bumps up against a roadblock, and someone else comes up with a work around to the problem – a room can hum with that kind of creative interaction. There are some great ideas out there, not of the holy grail variety, but smart and useful ideas. You can see the results of the 4th Symposia here
Aimee went on to talk about a couple of the creative things Found Animals was doing for local shelters – check out the podcast. Found Animals is a very creative group, working to do all they can to better the lives of animals – it was one of those interviews where when time is up, you’re shocked it has to end!