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Friday, May 23, 2008

Cloned dogs

Reading about a recent offer by a California biotech company to clone five dogs has left me with a queasy feeling in my gut. An auction will be set up with bidding starting at $100,000. I cannot fathom the arrogance of somebody willing to spend that kind of money to clone their pet. 1) That money could be used for something far more noble, and 2) the cloned pet will simply be that animal's physical twin. Again, a replica. The same model, but with far different software. The cloned pet would likely NOT have the same personality as the original. It would require the same programming, or training. 3) There are millions of unwanted pets in North America. These people should lose their ego, go to a shelter, where they can find the most wonderful dogs. Save a life or two, instead of feeding the pockets of these multi-billion dollar corporations, likely eerily-similar to Cyberdyne Systems Corporation in "The Terminator."

Not a cloned puppy, but the work going into both is identical (though one is fiction).

Disclaimer: I am in favour of such genetic manipulation, if used to produce tissues and not living, conscious, feeling, entities. Such technology can (and will) advance the medical field immensely, to relieve suffering, improve or save lives.

Addendum: Please read the very relevant comments below from Gaya and Mel.


Gaya said...

I couldn't agree with you more. If these people want the $100,000 to be spent on dogs (or other animals), it should be spent on research and development to better the lives of these animals, not this. But that would be far too practical and generous.

Mel said...

If I can find a link, I'll try to send along a story that I heard on 'This American Life' about a cloned bull in Texas. The original was as gentle as a lamb and essentially a family pet; the clone very nearly killed the owner.

Bicycle said...

Jeez, I'm grateful to live in a nation in which I'm free to spend my money as I see fit, no matter how arrogant someone who doesn't know me thinks I am. Clearly you also think that if I'm interested in cloning, I must be deluded by sci-fi movies into thinking that the point of it is to bring a beloved dead pet back to life. Also, we're going to reduce pet homelessness a lot faster by educating pet owners about spaying/neutering than by protesting pet cloning. As for BioArts, it appears to be a small startup company, but a "multi-billion dollar corporation" makes a better target, eh? Personally I'm interested in hearing from people who have actually decided to clone a pet. Liam Lynch seems like a thoughtful, intelligent, non-evil guy as he talks about his decision: and about the results (start this one halfway through):

TorontoVet said...

Those who choose to clone their pets may be far from malevolent, but I see no reason to do it (other than showing us that science can actually do it). Cloning a species, especially one that may have become extinct by man, and cloning your deceased Maltese are two very different things. Please help me see the selflessness in the latter.
BioArts, whether a start-up or a "multi-billion dollar" company, is selling a cloned-dog for a 100 grand. I'm just not into it.
I agree with your manner of educating the public to reduce pet overpopulation - it cannot be overemphasized.
Unfortunately, the links you provided seem to have been removed. I really wanted to watch them.
I did, however, find a video of Liam Lynch's story. He certainly seems "non-evil" and his cat Frankie is adorable. It's sad how he died....
I don't agree with his way of mourning: having cloned Frankie.

Gaya said...

This link provides a brief summary of the story of Second Chance, the bull cloned in 1999, who exhibited aggressive behavior.

The second link might be worth reading before anyone gets too defensive about their views on cloning. It addresses risks associated with cloning.

TorontoVet said...

Bingo, Gaya. Thanks!

Gaya said...

Can you access those links? Both of them are missing the tail end of their URLs. For the first one, the summary of "Second Chance", what's posted here seems to end at monkey-pa
The actual URL ends:

For the one on the risks of cloning, the actual URL ends:

Does that make sense?

bicycleo said...

torontovet, from what I can tell, the reason people want this service is to have another dog as similar as possible to their favorite dog. Why does a decision like that have to be about selflessness? I think it's about happiness -- certainly there's room in life for people to do things for themselves AND do things for others. I think people who say "cloning isn't for me" are too quick to say "therefore it shouldn't be for you either." Gaya the link you cited about risks comes from an activist organization that does not represent the views of most scientists who have studied cloning.

TorontoVet said...


I get your point. Really I do. At this point in time and technology, and as a vet, I would refer such a client back to their original breeder for a new puppy. They would acquire a dog that is physically very similar to the first one, and possibly genetically due to the fact that "quality" dogs are used in the breeding lines.