If you have ever lost a dog or cat that by your estimation was the most unique and remarkable of all companion animals, then you may understand the allure of wanting to clone that pet. It’s a romantic and enticing concept; to resurrect a pet that has died. But that’s a common mistake that people make when they think of cloning.
I’ll admit, Dalene and I talked about cloning Dillon when we heard that the technology had arrived…but boy, am I ever glad we didn’t try to bring that to fruition. Think about it for a moment…there’s always that one, remarkably special pet that will break your heart when he/she dies. That one-in-a-million pet. A clone will be a genetic reproduction – not your beloved pet resurrected.
Even putting aside the question of whether or not dogs have souls, (I personally think they do), in order to recreate your beloved pet into not only a physical replica, but one with a similar personality, you’d have to recreate every event in the pet’s life that shaped him into his unique self. Animals are as much a product of their experiences as humans are. How would you know which were the formative experiences, and would you really want to recreate them ? Even the bad ones?
I just finished reading the book Dog, Inc. by John Woestendiek. It is a non-fiction account of the advent of the pet cloning industry, and it is extremely disturbing. Woestendiek doesn’t make any moral judgments in the book, but it’s impossible to read it without considering all the implications.
When four million pets are put to death in shelters every year, I question the ethics of breeding – so cloning seems above and beyond that; the most reprehensible and irresponsible action a pet lover can take.
Consider some of the facts that Woestendiek brings to light:
At the beginning, in order to get a successful clone, scientists had to harvest eggs from as many as 115 dogs. After they re-nucleated the eggs, it resulted in 1,095 reconstructed embryos, which were then transplanted into 123 surrogate dogs. Out of these, three were viable pregnancies, bearing two live births. One died several weeks later. Although this procedure has been “perfected” – now taking “only” somewhere around a dozen dogs to create a clone of a pet…the procedure often results in multiple clones. So suddenly, you don’t have one clone of your pet, but 2 or 3 or 5.
And what about those extra clones and the dogs it took to make them? Pet cloning is only being done in South Korea, and for a very good reason: they don’t have the animal welfare laws that we have here in the US. The dogs they use for harvesting eggs and implanting embryos come from farms where dogs are raised for the meat trade…and when the scientists are finished with them, they go right back there. The extra clones end up living their lives out in cages in the laboratory where they can be studied.
How does any of this honor a special pet?
Plus, the clone isn’t going to live forever, and may in fact have a shorter life span than the original pet.
If this isn’t the pinnacle of human hubris and disregard for life, I don’t know what is.
When you lose that special pet, you will always have the memories – and those last forever. And if you MUST have another pet that looks just like the one you lost…start searching petfinder and pet pardons….I guarantee you’ll be able to find a similar looking pet…who incidentally, will have his or her own set of peculiar and individual traits to love.
Maybe it would be more prudent to memorialize that special pet in ink.