When people have more money than common sense, they will spend obscene amounts on their dogs. I’m not talking about those who send their canine kids to doggy daycare daily, or even those who buy designer collars that cost more than all of my jewelry combined. I’m talking about the kind of rich people who take the unethical route: They clone their dog. For so long, cloning was just science fiction, but now, if you have enough disposable income, it can be a reality.
I have to ask: Why would anyone want to do this?
Going viral on the Internet late last year was the story of Laura Jacques and Richard Remde, a couple from the United Kingdom who spent about $100,000 to clone their boxer, Dylan, who died of brain cancer. My first thoughts were about how many shelter dogs that money could have helped, but then I started to think more about the ethics of the situation.
I love my dogs — like to an obsessive and obscene degree. I’m one of those people who thinks of my dogs as my children and plans vacations around what I think they will enjoy. I’m constantly showing off pictures of my canine kids, and I even have them tattooed on my body. My dogs are incredibly special beings, but I would never even think about cloning them.
In reality, cloning is nothing like how it appears in cartoons. At the end of the process, there isn’t a fully formed adult dog who steps out of a “cloning machine,” looking and acting just like the original. When Dylan died on June 30, 2015, the couple began the cloning process. They had his cells harvested (I don’t even want to know what that looks like), flew the cells to South Korea, handed them off to staff members of the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation at the airport, and then flew back to the UK. They had to do this again after the first cells were found not to be viable for cloning. The couple flew again to South Korea for the birth of two cloned Boxer puppies, delivered via C-section with markings similar to Dylan’s.
One of the hardest things about parenting dogs is knowing that their lives are so much shorter than ours and making the best possible end-of-life decisions for them, putting their welfare above our own fear of losing them. Similarly, when the time is right to bring another dog into our family, we must be fair to that dog. We must treat him like the individual he is and not expect him to be like a beloved dog who died. To a very extreme extent, this couple has not honored that commitment. They aren’t just expecting the new puppies to act the same as Dylan; they are expecting them to BE him. This is unfair to the puppies, who are unable to have their own lives, and it’s disrespectful to the memory of Dylan!
I think it goes without saying that I will be devastated when my beloved dogs pass away, but even if cloning were to become economically reasonable (really, who has $100,000 lying around?), I would never do it. Part of the beauty of a life with dogs comes from the joy of learning and bonding with a new pet, not trying to simply replicate the same bond you had with a past beloved pup.
This British couple isn’t alone in their desire: To date, Sooam claims 700 customers have had their dogs cloned. What about you, would you clone your dog if you could afford to?
Read more about dog cloning:
About the author: Sassafras Lowrey is a dog-obsessed author based in Brooklyn. She is the winner of the 2013 Berzon Emerging Writer Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation, and her latest novel Lost Boi was released in April. Sassafras is a certified trick dog instructor, and she assists with dog agility classes. Sassafras lives with her partner, two dogs of dramatically different sizes, two bossy cats, and a semi-feral kitten. She is always on the lookout for adventures with her canine pack.