Cloning can seem like something restricted to the realm of science fiction. However, a wide range of parties have been looking into the matter for decades and decades, as shown by how the first successful case of cloning happened in the 1950s. Nowadays, cloning has seen sufficient progress that pet cloning is now a service that interested individuals can purchase in the United States as well as a wide range of other countries. For proof, look no further than the family that had their pet Golden Doodle Sally cloned by ViaGen Pets, which is based out of the state of Texas. Apparently, the whole process was still very much a learning experience for the company.
However, it is by no means a newcomer to cloning, as shown by how it started out cloning livestock before moving on to the cloning of pets. Currently, ViaGen Pets is limited to cloning dogs, cats, and horses, but as it continues to build up more and more experience while consumers build up more and more demand, it seems reasonable to speculate that it could offer an even wider range of services in the times to come. Having said this, those who are interested should know that while they will need to preserve a tissue sample of their pet, they don’t need to actually use that tissue sample until a time of their choosing.
Should Pets Be Cloned?
Of course, pet cloning raises a whole host of issues. Some of these are ethical in nature, whereas others are things that interested individuals should know beforehand. Here are some examples of both:
There Are Bioethicists Who Consider Pet Cloning to Be Unethical
For starters, there are bioethicists who consider pet cloning to be unethical. Said individuals acknowledge that there can be legitimate uses for the cloning of animals. For example, the cloning of an endangered species could play an important role in its conservation. Likewise, the cloning of the same animal could enable better research results, which in turn, could be used to reduce suffering in the future. However, these bioethicists see pet cloning as something that creates more suffering than what the benefits warrant.
In short, pet cloning requires unfertilized eggs, which must be removed from the relevant animal using an invasive procedure. Afterwards, an egg has to be stripped of its genetic material so that new genetic material cultivated from the tissue sample can be put into its place. Once the egg starts showing signs of cell division, it must then be implanted in a surrogate mother, who will need to be treated with hormones as well as in some cases, be made to mate with a vasectomized male. However, the really unpleasant part is that even once an egg has reached this stage, it has a very low chance of producing a viable clone, so much so that the cloning process for just a pair of cloned dogs required more than 1,000 embryos implanted in 123 surrogate mothers. Granted, the numbers are seeing improvement as the relevant companies become more and more practiced at pet cloning, but it is no exaggeration to say that pet cloning is pretty much build on farmed animals.
The Marketing For Pet Cloning Can Be Deceptive
Moving on, the marketing for pet cloning can be pretty deceptive to say the least. Basically, when such companies market their services, their basic premise is that their clients can have their beloved companion returned to them. However, this is very misleading because a pet’s personality isn’t 100 determined by their genetics. Instead, a pet’s personality is determined by a combination of nature and nurture, meaning that while interested individuals are promised the return of their beloved companion, they are actually getting a new animal that is different from their beloved companion in every single way that actually matter to most people. As such, it can be argued that pet cloning is founded upon exploiting the grief of pet owners, which is rather tasteless to say the least.
There are many, many cloning myths that can be found out there. These are a serious problem for those who are interested in pet cloning because each one can distort their expectations. As such, they should definitely do some research into these issues before proceeding further with their plans.
For starters, clones won’t necessarily look 100 percent the same as the base animal. Certainly, they have the same genes. However, there is no guarantee that they will express those same genes in the same way. Sometimes, this isn’t very noticeable, as shown by how human twins can look the same but still have different fingerprints. Other times, this can be very noticeable, with an excellent example being when a pair of cloned animals have different patterns on their bodies. Similarly, cloned animals are not guaranteed to have the same personalities as the base animal because personalities are a product of both their nature and their nurture.
On the plus side, there are plenty of negative cloning myths that aren’t true either. For example, there is a popular belief that clones have shorter lifespans because they start out at the age of the animal that provided the relevant tissue sample. Something that can be traced back to how the cloned sheep Dolly seemed to have had the shorter telomeres of her donor. However, subsequent studies have produced mixed results, with some suggesting that clones have age-appropriate telomeres in all of tissues while others suggest that clones have both age-appropriate and age-inappropriate telomeres in different tissues. More importantly, observation of cloned animals doesn’t really support the idea that they die off earlier because they start out at the same age as their donors.
Moving on, there is another popular belief that cloned animals are doomed to suffer all sorts of health problems, which isn’t unwholly unfounded. However, the problems observed in some earlier clones seem to have originated from earlier issues with the cloning process, meaning that they have fallen in number as the relevant parties become more and more capable with cloning technologies. Otherwise, cloned animals that are born healthy don’t seem any more inclined to suffer serious health problems than other healthy animals, though they do retain their donor’s genetic tendencies in that regard thanks to them sharing the same genes.