A British couple who lost their 8-year old dog to a brain tumor and who couldn’t cope with his death, decided to spend over $92,000 (£70,000) to clone him and now are being victims of severe criticism by people who label them as selfish.
Is this about the number of dogs at shelters in need of a home? Is this about telling people how they should spend their money? Or is this about the possibility of pets being cloned to cope with their death as a mainstream practice in the future? Why is this so polemic? What is it really being criticized here?
Let’s imagine the demand for cloning pets increases and one day we reach a point in which cloning your pet costs $100. Would Laura Jacques and Richard Remede be equally criticized for cloning their dog?
If this is about telling people how to spend their money, we are reaching a really gray area here. Last year the story about the Chinese millionaire who used all his fortune saving dogs from the slaughterhouse touched the heart of every dog lover out there. But there were also people who criticized him for using his money on dogs instead of helping the poor people of his community.
At the end of the day, we can criticize everybody for how they spend their money if their way doesn’t match our parameters or we can respect their choices.
Any person that buys a dog or a cat could also be criticized for not choosing to rehome a shelter dog instead, because yes, there are millions of animals dying in shelters every year but whose fault is it? The person that buys the pet or the breeder, the person that gets their pet cloned or the company that clones them? Or is also the person who abandons an animal or the system who doesn’t punish animal abuse strong enough?
Controlling breeding practices, stopping dog fights, implementing harsher laws for animal abuse and educating the public regarding animal care seem more successful ways to reduce the shelter population than to attack every person that spends money on a pet, no matter the amount.
But aside from how much this couple spent to clone their dog, what do you think of the idea of cloning you pet? If it was cheaper, would you do it?
The company that they used is called Sooam Biotech Research Foundation and it’s in Seoul, South Korea. Basically what they do is implant DNA into a “blank” dog egg from which they removed the nucleus, which holds the genetic material that gives the dog its characteristics. Then they give electric shocks to the egg to trigger cell division and they implant it into a surrogate dog.
This couple successfully got two healthy puppies, Chance and Shadow, clones of their death dog Dylan. After being 6 months in quarantine, they were able to take them home.
Cloning pets is a very controversial practice. The RSPCA doesn’t approve it. Regarding it, they say:
“There are serious ethical and welfare concerns relating to the application of cloning technology to animals. Cloning animals requires procedures that cause pain and distress, with extremely high failure and mortality rates. There is also a body of evidence that cloned animals frequently suffer physical ailments such as tumors, pneumonia and abnormal growth patterns.”
Even putting all that aside, the truth is that even if you clone your pet, it won’t be an exact replica of it. In this case, even if the puppies are identical to Dylan, what made Dylan be who he was, was also the life he had and that cannot be replicated. His experiences shaped him as much as his genetic material. His personality was not only created by his predisposition to be in a certain way, but also by the way he lived, the way he was loved and the things that he felt.
And those puppies will be shaped the same way, they may have a genetic predisposition but their experiences will make them unique. Hopefully this couple won’t expect an exact replica to the dog they lost so the puppies can develop fully and happily.
Let us know what you think of all this!