Cloning pets — love or lunacy?

Cloning pets — love or lunacy?

cloned puppies 2MOST people love their pets. Indeed, many people consider their pets to be members of the family. The death of a beloved pet can be truly devastating. But how far would you go to keep your little Fido with you forever? My Friend Again, a company in South Korea, is pioneering pet cloning. For some people, the US$100,000 price tag is worth having their precious family member back

While human cloning is illegal in most parts of the world, animal cloning is a far less regulated business, and a lucrative business at that. While there are no exact stats on how many people have paid for cloned pets or how much they have paid, the price tag of US$50,000 to US$100,000 has not stopped some pet owners from cloning their pets multiple times. American cable station TLC even ran a series called “I Cloned My Pet” in 2012 and 2013 that followed several distraught families as they went through the heart-rending process of reconnecting with their lost pets.

The process is surprisingly simple for pet owners. Owners can make plans ahead of time by ordering a biopsy kit from the cloning company. The owner’s local vet will receive the kit and instructions on extracting living tissue from the pet. The sample is then frozen and kept in storage until the owner decides to go ahead with the cloning process. If a pet has already died, there is still a chance that living tissue could be extracted from the animal within five days.

Once the owner decides to proceed with the cloning, all the owner needs to do is sign a form and pay the money. It could take up to a year for a healthy cloned baby to be born, though. The in vitro fertilization of the surrogate mother does not always work the first time, just like in humans, but once the healthy puppy arrives, the owner can fly to South Korea to pick it up and take it home when it is about 3 months old.

Is it exactly like the old pet? No. While it may look like the original pet and have the same genetics, animals, like people, are influenced by their surroundings and upbringings. The new puppy will not have the same memories or experiences as the original, so it will not behave exactly the same. Also, some people think that spending US$100,000 on a designer pet when there are millions of pets put to sleep in shelters around the world every year is selfish.

For pet owners willing to fork out the cash, though, the new babies are worth it. “My pet was the love of my life,” says bereaved pet owner Danielle about her sweet boy, Trouble. Fellow grieving pet parent Peter agrees. “I think about her every second,” he says of his lost girl, Wolfie. For these pet parents and countless others, any amount of money is worthwhile if they can hold their fur baby again. If the procedure becomes more popular and the price drops, who knows how many more people might join their ranks in this pioneering science.

Personally, I love my dog like a child. I have panic attacks when I am separated from her too long and I worry about her constantly. She is my best friend and has gotten me through some really hard times. She is only three years old, and small breeds like hers commonly live at least 15 years. Her natural death is still many, many years away, but I know it will happen. It worries me already just because I know it is inevitable. But would I clone her if she died? If money was no option, I can see it being tempting. My last dog, Timber, died long before his time and I miss him every day. Even though I know I could not have brought him to China (he was an Alaskan Malamute), I can’t stop thinking about him. But would I clone him or Vash? I don’t think I would. Timber was a shelter dog. I got him when he was two years old, full-grown in doggy years. There are so many amazing dogs in shelters, I think, when I was ready to love again, I would have to adopt a shelter dog again. However, I am not in the camp who think people who clone their dogs are selfish. As I said, I completely understand the strength of that pet-pet parent bond and I don’t think anyone should judge someone who loves their dog that much. After living in a country where I see animals abused on nearly a daily basis, I think that more people should love their pets enough that they would clone them if they died. If everyone loves their pets that much, there wouldn’t be needy animals in shelters because they would all be taken care of properly.

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Vash helping Zoe move into her dorm.
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Vash so happy with her new toy.
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Vash doing her Groucho Marx impression.

What do you think? Would you ever clone your pet? 

4 Replies to “Cloning pets — love or lunacy?”

  1. “Also, some people think that spending US$100,000 on a designer pet when there are millions of pets put to sleep in shelters around the world every year is selfish.”

    I’m one of those people who think so. I may understand it fine as well, but I think it’s absolutely selfish.

    The main fallacy is that a clone of your pet is not the same as your pet, it’s like a twin sibling at a younger age. But it’s someone else.

    Sometimes pet owners project a lot on their animal companions, convincing themselves their dog likes wearing a sweater or something like that. Projecting that a clone of your dead cat is bringing the other cat back to life is a major self-delusion. It’s almost unfair to the newly born pet who deserves to be an individual.

    I just think it’s unhealthy. Dealing with death is a part of life we all need to deal with. Spending enough money to help thousands and thousands of other dogs and cats as a way to deny the finality of all life is a terrible way to act. What if these entitled rich pet owners have kids, are they teaching their kids that if a human loved one dies then it’s acceptable to simply clone a new Grandma? I think there’s definitely a terrible lesson in there.

    IMHO~

    1. Well, these people don’t have kids and are not kids. I’m sure if they had human children their priorities would be different, but they don’t. They are adults and they can do what they want with their money.

      I also don’t think it is right to judge anyone on how they grieve. Grief is a personal process that everyone deals with in their own way and no one else has the right to say the way someone grieves is wrong. There is no right or wrong way.

      Besides, why can’t we clone grandma? Cloning is a moral decision, and not everyone has the same morals.

      1. Mayhaps I come across as too judgmental, but you asked if it’s love and lunacy and the more I thought about it the more I conclude it’s lunacy.

        I can’t control how other people spend their money, but I can be opinionated~

        I do however completely agree with all the governments of the world that outlaw human cloning, and I hope that’s a moral judgment that keeps as long as possible. One day we will have to deal with the ethical issues of cloning grandma – a conversation too big for my reply today – and I hope that day comes a very long time from now

  2. I know pets aren’t people, but I couldn’t imagine cloning my father (who died five years ago) or cloning the friends or family I’ve lost. I know that it wouldn’t really be that person, and I think the same is true of pets. They aren’t just a collection of genes; they have their own personalities and life experiences and histories. You can’t clone that.

    I understand the desire to bring back something we’ve lost, but this is a case where I think nature functions for a reason, and we’re just using the technology to prolong the inevitable: facing the pain of loss and moving forward.

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