Access To Pet Cloning Growing Worldwide Despite High Costs, Skepticism

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jul 27, 2023 - 06:45 AM

Authored by Allan Stein via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Five cloned macaques at a research institution in Shanghai on Nov. 27, 2018 and released on Jan. 24, 2019, by the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience. Chinese scientists said the five monkeys were cloned from a single animal that was genetically engineered to have a sleep disorder, saying it could aid research into human psychological problems. (AFP via Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—”Jack” wasn’t just any house cat but Tammy’s best friend for almost two decades.

He was her rock and emotional lifeline when her parents and brother died six years apart—beside her in times of trouble when life was too much to carry alone.

“When you get ‘the one’—some people never do—they just don’t understand it,” said Tammy, a retired health care worker in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Jack was one in a mjillion. He was just a perfect gentleman. Neat as a pin.”

Feline “Jack” (left) relaxes with identical kitty clones “OJ” and “Thud.” (Courtesy photo)

Jack lived to be 18—a long life, by cat standards—succumbing to cancer in February and dying in Tammy’s arms at home.

But before Jack’s cancer diagnosis, Tammy had already decided to “clone” her beloved cat, despite the high cost and uncertainty of the procedure.

A lot of people do cloning for themselves,” Tammy said. “I know this sounds silly—I did it for Jack,” who she had neutered when he was young.

“He deserved sons.”

The cloning procedure took place two years ago for $25,000 and produced two nearly-identical male kittens, each the spitting likeness of Jack.

Both kittens were born to their surrogate mother on Feb. 14, 2021—Valentine’s Day; both have extra toes on each paw and the same distinctive coloration that Jack had.

And both love to swim, travel, and carry socks in their mouth, just like Jack.

Tammy named her two cloned kittens, OJ and Thud, who owe their existence to advancements in cloning technology over the past three decades.

Costly and Still Controversial

Tammy said she knew the procedure was not only expensive but controversial.

She’s received many messages on Facebook condemning her decision to clone Jack as “Satanic,” “unnatural,” and unwise for her to play God.

And these people were “ungodly rude” about it, Tammy said. For this reason, she asked not to use her last name in this story.

However, she said that most people on social media tell her they’re curious about cloning and think it’s “amazing.”

Cloned felines “OJ” and “Thud” are the spitting likeness of their cell donor, Jack, who lived with them for two years before he died in February 2023. (Courtesy photo)

Pet cloning is making a genetic copy of a living or deceased pet, usually a dog or cat. It involves extracting DNA from the host animal to produce live embryos for placement inside a surrogate mother to develop until they are born.

According to market analyst DataIntelo, pet cloning is a global market projected to grow by 9.1 percent annually between 2022 and 2030.

“The market can be attributed to the increasing demand for pet cloning services, rising awareness about the benefits of pet cloning, and technological advancements in the field of pet cloning,” the company website states.

The market goes by two types—deceased pet cloning and alive pet cloning using similar techniques.

Since the controversial birth of Dolly, the first cloned sheep in 1996, several companies have emerged to reap the lucrative commercial rewards of pet cloning.

BioVenic and Gemini Genetics in the United States and Sinogene in China are among them. Pet cloning is also big business in South Korea, fetching $100,000 for a cloned dog at some elite clinics.

For the past 20 years, ViaGen Pets and Equine in Texas has cloned horses, livestock, and dogs and cats for hundreds of clients across the United States.

“I think most clients hope to recreate that special bond [with a deceased pet]—and I certainly understand that,” said ViaGen’s client service manager Melain Rodriguez, who’s had many cats and dogs in her lifetime.

“Although you love them all, you had a special relationship with that one special [pet] that stands out. It’s so hard when it’s gone,” Ms. Rodriguez said.

Feline “Jack” and cloned offspring “OJ” and “Thud” enjoy a meal together. (Courtesy photo)

In 2016, ViaGen delivered the first cloned puppy in the United States: a Jack Russell terrier named Nubia, an identical twin of its genetic donor.

Ms. Rodriguez said ViaGen cloned horses and livestock primarily before branching into cloning pets and even threatened or endangered species.

The procedure is intricate and costly—$50,000 for a cloned dog at ViaGen—and carries the potential risk of failed embryos and unwanted heritable traits.

Several nationwide polls found that most Americans in sample groups opposed cloning on moral or religious grounds.

Opponents of animal cloning cite inherent health and safety risks, flaws in the developing technology, and lack of government oversight and regulation.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has called for a moratorium on cloned and bioengineered pets.

During the moratorium, a multidisciplinary commission would evaluate existing cloning research and technology, including regulations regarding its use.

“Our current knowledge of animal cloning indicates that there are important welfare concerns at issue,” according to the ASPCA position statement. “Reports on the health and condition of mammalian animals produced by cloning have indicated a variety of anatomical and physiological problems.

“It is difficult to document fully the consequences of cloning or bioengineered applications of companion animals since many of these activities fall outside the framework of publicly funded and regulated research programs.”

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