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Replacement Pets?

clone dogs - jurvetson.jpg
Jurvetson (Steve Jurvetson)
Are these really clones or just "twins" - even human twins may be genetically the same but they can have different personalities.

Brennan certainly loved her dog, a Bull Terrier named Booger.  And why not?  He was her hero, saving her life by fighting off an attack from a dog several times his size.  So when Booger died of cancer, his owner was devastated.  She wanted her dog back, like so many other people who have lost a beloved pet.  But Brennan decided to do something about it.  She contacted a company that produced genetic replicas of Booger, from skin cells Brennan had frozen in hopes of finding a way to have him cloned.

     The five cloned puppies all appeared to perfect physical duplicates of Booger, to the great delight of their owner.  And the cost?  Fifty thousand dollars.  (If you’re wondering, it costs twenty-five thousand dollars to clone a cat.)

     I admit that I have some issues with cloning pets.  Let’s begin with the fact that genetics is only a portion of what makes a pet.  Those cloned puppies will not be exactly like Booger, in part because their experiences will be different from his.  It’s not fair to any pet to expect it to be identical in behavior and personality to a previous pet, whether it’s just the same breed or in this case a clone of the original.  Another issue is the spending so much money to clone a pet when every year in this country hundreds of thousands of pets are euthanized in animal shelters for lack of homes and loving owners.  Most animal welfare organizations could help many, many animals for the cost spent to clone five puppies from one dog’s DNA.

     So while I might like to have my little mixed Terrier, Ivy back, her clone would never be Ivy, just an imitation of the original.  But it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a great relationship with a new pet, knowing it can be special in its own way.  You, too, can have that kind of great relationship by visiting an animal shelter in your community and adopting a new best friend, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.