By now everyone has heard of Edgar and Nina Otto, the couple who paid $150,000 to have their golden Labrador retriever, named Sir Lancelot cloned. That price makes cloning a far-fetched extravagance for most of us, but what if the fee was dramatically reduced? Would you consider cloning a pet?
Well, the world of opulence may soon become a reality for the average person because RNL Bio, the Korean company that is responsible for the cloning process, announced they have developed a new method for retrieving DNA. It uses stem cells that are easily found in the fat tissue of a deceased dog. They successfully cloned two puppies this way and believe the fee for cloning will be greatly reduced.
Personally, I am on the fence. Each of my dogs has been a one-of-a-kind treasure. I suppose that would make them “clone worthy,” but I don’t know if that is what I would choose, especially when there are thousands of homeless dogs already on this planet waiting to be adopted.
Edgar and Nina Otto decided cloning was the way to go for them. They now have a beautiful golden Lab puppy named Lancelot Encore or “Lancy” for short. In an interview with MSNBC, Nina Otto said, “Pets lives are too short. It truthfully is amazing to me that this process has come to be and that I am getting, if not my dog, certainly the essence of Lancelot.”
Otto is correct about a clone being the essence of her dog. Clones have the same DNA as the original dog, but each develops their own personality. Lou Hawthorne CEO of BioArts International found this out when his company cloned his mother’s dog, Missy. The two cloned puppies named Mira and MissyToo have different temperaments and even differ in size. This is due in part to living in the body of a surrogate dog. Hawthorne cloned Missy six times. This produced Mira and MissyToo plus two more puppies that were adopted and two dogs that became sick with Parvo and died.
And that poses another problem with cloning; it can produce sick and abnormal dogs. Dr. Robert Lanza who is a scientist with Advanced Cell Technology explained that cloning is a difficult process that sometimes produces “mistakes.”
A recent set of puppies, named Magic and Stem were born via cloning. But the process took 84 embryos that were implanted into five surrogate dogs which finally produced the two healthy pups. Dr. Lanza had this to say to potential clients.
“Anyone who wants to have their pet cloned should ask themselves if they are willing to have one or two defective copies of ‘Fluffy’ or ‘Spot’ put down in order to get their pet back. Of course, cloning is associated with lots of abnormalities and genetic defects–and a significant percent of newborn animals die in the first few days or weeks of life.”
Dr. Lanza also sees the benefits of cloning. He pointed out in a research paper that cloning could help reproduce dogs that are needed for specific purposes such as “sniffer dogs” to work to police and other government entities.
Where do you stand on cloning? Would you clone a beloved pet if the price were right? Please leave your answer in the poll at the end of this page.