You may have spotted in recent headlines the story of Barbara Streisand and her cloned dogs. This story sparked a debate in the Buddies office as to whether this was ethical. In this blog we learn more about cloning and look at both sides of the argument. Just because it can be done, should it be done?
How does it work –
The first step to having a dog cloned is genetic preservation. A vet will collect a small tissue sample from the dog which is then sent to a cloning specialist. The specialist will culture new cells from the sample provided which will share the same genetic make-up. These cells will then be frozen until used.
A donor egg is also required, which will have the nucleus removed. This therefore removes any genetic material from the mother, such as characteristics and personality, allowing the cloned cells to control this.
The first major cloning success was Dolly the sheep, born in 1996 as the first mammal cloned from an adult cell. In 2005, researchers in South Korea cloned the first dog.
What are the costs –
It’s reported that dog cloning costs the owner over $50,000. The main market leaders in pet cloning are Texas based ViaGen and South Korean based Sooam Biotech Research Foundation.
Last year, a couple from Yorkshire flew to South Korea to have their deceased dog cloned with Biotech. You can read more about their story here.
The arguments –
Whilst some people claim that cloning your dog is a successful way to deal with grief, many organisations claim that the process is unethical.
Following the announcement that Barbara Streisand had cloned her dog, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) president Ingrid Newkirk issued a statement saying she would “love to have talked her out of cloning,” noting that “millions of wonderful adoptable dogs are languishing in animal shelters every year or dying in terrifying ways when abandoned.”
While researching cloning, the overriding majority seems to be against with very little argument for. The vast majority state that cloning is ’unnatural’, ‘selfish’ and ‘does not serve to benefit human kind’. I’m inclined to agree. With shelters and rehoming services searching for homes for perfectly healthy dogs and cats on a regular basis, and research showing that cloned animals have a higher risk of birth defects, still birth and early death, doesn’t it make more sense to rehome?
I understand that the death of a pet is truly heart breaking, and in the wake of the death, many, myself included, would do anything to have their loved one back. However, there is no guarantee that your cloned pet would have the exact same characteristics and aesthetics as your previous beloved pooch, and eventually, you will have to endure the heartbreak all over again.
Saying this, If the price wasn’t so high, and I could have the chance of a few more years with a lost loved one, I understand why people would be inclined to at least consider.
I recently launched a poll on my Instagram feed to gain my followers input, and the results were a fairly even split for and against. I am sure this topic will spark much debate.
Myself and the Buddies team would love to hear your thoughts. Email us at Hello@Buddies.co.uk.