Will The Real Dog Please Stand Up?

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.

Waldo's petfinder doppelgangers. Which one is he?

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?

Rocket Boy's petfinder doppelganger

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:

Maria's pet pardons doppelganger.

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.

Taco's petfinder doppelgangers. Can you find her?

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.

via Modern Dog Magazine

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About yelodoggie

C.A.Wulff is an author, artist and animal advocate. She has been involved in pet rescue for over twenty-five years. She has written two books about her true-life adventures living with an ever-changing house full of pets: Born Without a Tail, and Circling the Waggins, and a guide to animal advocacy using the Internet as a tool: How to Change the World in 30 Seconds". Wulff also writes a pet column and book review column for the Examiner, and is a contributing editor for AnimalsVote.org. She attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.
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7 Responses to Will The Real Dog Please Stand Up?

  1. As you know, I mentioned this same subject in my book, and struggled with the idea of cloning a beloved cat. But I came to the same conclusion you did, Ariel – that it’s better to cherish and celebrate each critter while they’re with you, and memorialize them in some way after they’ve passed. There’s simply no way to clone the deep emotional bond that we develop with each individual animal.

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  2. yelodoggie says:

    I remember, Kelly…and I was happy to see that you and I agreed on this topic.

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  3. John Stahl says:

    I agree also ….:Love and cherish them while you have them…Care for them, make their lives the best they can be..mourn them when they are gone, keep them alive in your memory forever, and if you can…find another one to try to make it’s life better also…the joy they bring will always outweigh the sorrow of loosing them…

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  4. Irv Oslin says:

    Cloning? No way. That pets come into our lives and go — they’re lives being so much shorter — can be devastating. But I think it has value beyond that is their passing can help us learn to accept impermanence while not discounting its pleasure and pain. It’s just one thing more they give us.

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  5. Cat Crazy Alice says:

    When my beloved Sparky had to be euthanized six years ago, the thought of having a “cloned” Sparky crossed my mind because I wanted to hold on to him in any way possible. Then I realized that there could never be a true replacement, even if the clone looked like him but surely could not bond with me as he did. I have reconciled my loss by having his ashes on my dresser along with my favorite picture of him and me, and remembering the wonderful nine years we had together. If there is a “pet heaven” then my hope is that I will be greeted by his happy face.

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  6. rumpydog says:

    How ironic that humans are willing to allow MILLIONS of animals to suffer and sacrifice just so they can have what they want. Are you SURE that you’re the higher life form here?

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  7. ROGER says:

    I would rather give the $50,000.00 dollars (cloning fee) to a worthy pet charity than throw it away bringing back a pet that could never be the same beloved pet I once knew.
    We had them in our lives once but now we need to keep them in our hearts as the cherished memory of a love once shared between to of the very best friends. Such was my dog Shag.
    Gone but NOT forgotten. I know we will be together again. 🙂

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