A Passion For Making a Difference
in The Lives of Street Dogs and the Communities in Which They Live
Thrivant Health is blending science, business, and animal welfare know-how to create a new tool for ethically managing street dog populations.
We’re developing a safe, affordable, permanent birth control for male and female dogs. An injectable and humane drug that makes high-volume, high-coverage population control operationally feasible.
- So animal control agencies can achieve smaller, more stable dog populations without doing harm.
- So additional human health equity is realized in places of the world that need it most.
- So public perception and treatment of dogs is improved through reducing conflict between dogs and humans.
Thrivant Health is a Story Still Being Written
This is the Opening Chapter.
This is the Opening Chapter.
Part One: My Story
I’m Michael Royals.
I run Thrivant Health. Fresh out of veterinary school 20 years ago, I started developing medical devices to help humans. Things such as a better, non-surgical way to treat brain aneurisms, an eye implant to prevent blindness in head injury patients, and even a range of Star Trek-like devices that inject vaccines without needles.
The past decade of vaccine work took me all over the world. And most everywhere were the free-roaming dogs, lining the shady side of buildings, on steps and alleys, and perpetually foraging for food scraps.
Intrigued with these expendable and marginalized street dogs living rough and tumble lives, I began to pay attention. Revealed to me was that the concept of “man’s best friend” doesn’t exist in much of the world. Instead I observed a reluctant, interdependent triangle between the dogs, the human community members, and the government.
Globally, almost half a billion at-large animals are responsible for millions of dog bite cases annually. Victims incur heavy physical and psychological trauma and economic burdens due to loss of income. Governments endure a preventable strain on already stretched public health budgets. Seen as a low-value commodity, dogs become subject to extreme abuse and neglect, a lose-lose situation for all involved.
Trained as a veterinarian with an extensive background in product development and international public health, I decided to do something about it. The result is Thrivant Health, created to catalyze the shift to humane, effective dog population control.
Part Two: The Global Story
Outside of the posh conditions enjoyed by pets in developed nations, 300-500 million dogs are free to roam, reproduce, and cause mayhem. Spread across approximately 164 countries, almost seventy-five percent of the global dog population is on the street, able to form menacing packs and transmit dozens of diseases between each other and to humans. Dog bites account for of 99% of all human rabies cases, resulting in 8.6 billion USD in economic losses annually , .
Dog population control efforts take many forms. Surgical sterilization is highly effective but resource intensive. In resource-constrained regions, dogs are periodically captured and exterminated by electrocution, drowning, and poisoning. Not only are these methods dangerous and socially unpopular, they actually work against dog ecology. Depopulation inevitably allows an influx of new animals and new disease, continuing the cycle.
Thrivant Health is addressing the root of the problem – how to control breeding – with a contextually-optimized solution that works with dog ecology. Features we are engineering into our product include permanent sterilization in both male and female animals, single-dose efficacy, and to avoid the need for refrigeration, be ambient-temperature stable. Dogs returned to the street can hold their place in the community, preventing an influx of non-sterile dogs, ultimately decreasing overall population size and disease transmission.
We believe animal welfare transcends cultures, religions, and socioeconomic status
We pledge to create affordable, accessible population control tools so animal welfare can be maximized. Research in emerging market economies shows that dogs obtained for little or no cost are at the greatest risk of abandonment and abuse, and that community involvement in population control improves attitudes toward animal welfare and builds support for additional veterinary care.
We believe data trumps hype
We are scientists at heart and pledge to use evidence-based impact metrics to demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach to animal population control. Our goal is to inform policy and evolve practices worldwide.
We believe in using business as a force for good
Which is why Thrivant Health was formed as a , a for-profit organization with a legal structure that emphasizes our passion for contributing to the humane economy. Our goals of impacting both public health and animal welfare will play a pivotal role in decision-making and in delivering value to shareholders.
“When it comes, however, a chemical sterilant will be one of the great innovations in the field of animal welfare, with worldwide applications and dramatic benefits”
Wayne Pacelle, President, CEO, Humane Society of the United States, The Humane Economy, 2016.
We at Thrivant Health share Mr. Pacelle’s view of the value such a tool will have on animal welfare. But the value goes beyond animal welfare. The newly evolved Sustainable Development Goals recognize more explicitly than ever before the need to tackle inequity and to provide health for all. Realistic solutions to problems that disproportionately burden poor communities are of particular interest, since health and educational improvements at this level typically enjoy returns many times the initial investment. The public health component of Thrivant Health’s business model is straight down the centerline of this movement. We are at the front end of developing an integrated One Health intervention that spans health sectors, enabling concurrent resolution of both human and veterinary issues related to dog overpopulation.
We know we are tackling a big, gnarly problem – and it energizes us.
We understand that to realize the durable, meaningful change we seek, “wins” are required with science, with smart business decisions, with regulators, and with animal care professionals.
So are assembling a team capable of getting us there.
Michael Royals, DVM – Founder, CEO/President
Dr. Royals is an executive leader that thrives at the intersection of science and business. Over his 22-year career of guiding medical product development from the mind to the market, he’s been variously immersed in business development, prototyping, preclinical and clinical evaluation, domestic and international regulatory affairs, QMS, and market development. Recent extensive work integrating immunization technology into international and domestic public health markets yielded a good understanding of, and strong relationships with, NGO, governmental and UN agencies that influence and implement global public health programs. Dr. Royals earned his BS in Biomedical Science from Montana State University and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Colorado State University.
Kelly’s 20 years of international program development and management experience with the Jane Goodall Institute, Humane Society of the United States, and Humane Society International, beautifully complements Thrivant Health’s team. Her deep commitment to the One Health philosophy, which seeks to strengthen the underlying link between the health and welfare of animals and that of humans, will allow us to build the cost-benefit evidence required for broad adoption of the technology. Kelly will spearhead a wide range of translational research, alliance management, and market development activities.
Terry Nett, Ph.D. – Founder and Director
Dr. Nett is a Professor of Reproductive Physiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University. Dr. Nett is a graduate of Montana State University and earned his Ph.D. in Reproductive Physiology at Washington State University. He has published 221 manuscripts in peer reviewed journals, authored 34 book chapters and has made over 200 scientific presentations. In 2009, he received the Carl G. Hartman Award, a lifetime achievement award, from the Society of Reproduction. Dr. Nett is the key scientist behind the research that has brought the technology to development stage. He will remain involved in the product development and post-marketing studies.
Eric Weber, Ph.D. – Founder and Chief Science Officer
Dr. Weber is a graduate of UCLA, and earned his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Arizona. Dr. Weber comes to Thrivant Health with a focus in the animal health industry over the past 20 years. His work at Heska Corporation and with Dr. Nett at the Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, at Colorado State University, has imparted a broad range of expertise and skills, including scientific project management and business and intellectual property development. Dr. Weber has been instrumental in the development and proof of concept testing of our lead compound, and will remain very involved with the product development and clinical study phases, going forward.
Mr. Agarwal is Thrivant Health’s right hand in Asia. Based in Pune, India, he brings tremendous value in the form of 20 years of diversified healthcare experience and consulting. Fluent in multiple languages, he has worked in 62 countries to provide clients with business development, market development, logistics, and in- and out-licensing deals. Ashish’s success comes in part from his vast and reliable network of CEO’s, Managing Directors, Vice Presidents, highly placed government officials and well-networked consultants across the globe.