Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



In the early 1970's a surge of articles in the lay and scientific press brought the burgeoning problem of pet overpopulation to the attention of the American public. The spark for this concern appears to have been an article by Carl Djerassi (who was prominent in the development of oral contraceptives for humans) and his colleagues in the unlikely forum of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Djerassi argued that an efficient means of birth control was also required for the pet population (Djerassi et al, 1973). In 1974, following Djerassi's article Alan Beck, in an address to city officials described the metamorphosis of the dog from “man's best friend to a source of social, medical and political concern". In the same year, an editorial in the journal Science, (Feldman, 1974) claimed that the increasing number of unwanted and stray dogs were a cause of pollution, property damage, and danger to public health. Articles on it is issue appeared in many popular magazines, including Time, Esquire and Mad Magazine, and irresponsible pet ownership was implicated as one of the main causes of the wholesale destruction of unwanted animals • In general, the cat population was overlooked except by Robert Schneider (1970) who, in a study of pet population dynamics in two Californian communities, pointed out that the problem of overproduction in the more fecund feline population was even more acute than that in the canine population.


Proceedings of a workshop on Animal Control, held by the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in May 1984.

The workshop and the publication of the proceedings was supported by a grant from the Edith J. Goode Residuary Trust.