Barking Blondes: Would you clone your dog?

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

Molly Clone 225x300 Barking Blondes: Would you clone your dog?We all remember the headlines in 1996 surrounding the arrival Dolly, the first British cloned sheep. Hailed as one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs, Dolly was considered highly controversial.

Now it seems some British dog owners are desperate to immortalize their precious pooch. So they can take comfort that thanks to a South Korean firm due to launch in the UK it may well be possible.

Claiming to have successfully used advances in biotechnology to clone dozens of dogs for wealthy Americans and for the South Korean Police Force, the firm is offering a competition for one lucky British dog owner to win the chance to clone their dog.

This competition and subsequent creation of Britain’s first cloned dog, will be filmed and broadcast in a documentary on Channel 4 next year.

But the financial price is high at £63,000, and could the emotional price be even higher? Critics of cloning technology maintain that owners hoping to create a carbon copy of their beloved dog could well be disappointed, like identical twins the clone will not produce a perfect replica of the original dog.

There are ethical issues to consider too, and the concerns about meddling with nature… it also raises the question is it disrespectful to your beloved pet? Would your precious ‘Fido” like to look down from the ‘rainbow bridge’ in the sky at a ‘shadow’ of their former self?

Contrary to the cloning company’s claims, another concern is that UK scientists maintain cloning animals is extremely unreliable. A healthy specimen sometimes only results after over 100 attempts. Even if the embryo shares the exact genetic code of your dog, scientists warn that a myriad of factors like differing conditions in the surrogate mother’s womb, and the environment the new born is exposed to at birth, will dramatically change some of the characteristics, including aspects of the dog’s appearance and behaviour.

Even if a healthy pup is born, cloning technologies cannot overcome that its ‘phenotype’ will not be identical. There’s also the worry that the owner will treat the pup differently with high expectations and face massive disappointment when their “Fido” materializes into a pooch they do not have any affinity with. What would happen then? Would the owner reject this dog and hand it into a rescue centre already bursting at the seams with abandoned hounds?

Also, there are the concerns to be considered for the surrogate mum. She will go through all the emotional and physical pressures of a pregnancy with a strong likelihood that the procedure may fail, or the puppies born with defects or worse stillborn. Unquestionably, the strength of the emotional bond between an owner and their dog is sometimes greater than that between a fellow human, but does that give us the right to ‘artificially’ create a dog?

Should we not simply resign ourselves that dogs just aren’t genetically programmed to live as long as us. As painful as it is, there’s an important lesson to be learnt in coming to terms with the pain of letting go.

Barking Blondes’ by Anna Webb & Jo Good, published by Hamlyn, £12.99

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  • a_no_n

    Would your precious ‘Fido” like to look down from the ‘rainbow bridge’ in the sky at a ‘shadow’ of their former self?

    Your article seemed somewhat serious until I read that.

  • 5brian5

    Hi Jo, Anna, Molly & Matilda; I force myself to always be in flux. Although I try to be consistent, I like to keep an open mind for change. I’m not even remotely the same person I was when I got my first rescue dog “Helen”. Life is all about new experiences, not chasing old memories. I am a product of my memories, upbringing and experiences! My physical appearance is a result of genetic happenstance. I feel Helen, my mum, my best friend, my dad, and many many others, were on loan to me to enjoy and cherish at that moment in time. You can’t go back! That sixty thousand plus quid would be better spent on the here and now, in the form of a donation to an animal shelter or the Blue Cross, not spent on wishful thinking. From “Sputnik” to sitting here communicating in real time with Great Brittan whilst listening to Shay on BBC London, from Dolly to genetically modified medicines, and my heart valve, that twenty years ago would have been science fiction, I have truly lived in a fantastic era of development. However, I’m relieved that I won’t be here to see what the next 59 years will bring. I’m very unhappy with the way science is being exploited, as well as where were heading. Something has been lost in our societies. The most connected generation ever, doesn’t communicate or for that matter, know how to do it. When I pick a dog from a shelter, she will be a new experience for my cat Tula and myself. We are both open minded, and will give her a great home. Great Blog Ladies! As I’m typing this, Shay is talking about your whether conditions. I sincerely hope you’re alright, and any storm damage will be minimal. Luv Ya London!!! Luv Ya Ladies!!! Brian (Detroit Area)xxxx

  • Heathbar

    No, no to cloned dogs. And no again.

  • A13

    It wouldn’t be the same. Dogs, like people, are shaped by their experiences and I think they have their own individual personalities too.

    Why not spend your money on giving a rescue dog a second chance at life?

  • hectorsmum

    Would I clone my dog, certainly not, he is a unique life and deserves to be remembered as such. My third Pug and the other two were just a unique, he is a different as chalk and cheese from my previous as they were from each other.

    I do not think that a cloned dog would be exactly the same either, but like Dolly you would need for the cells to be taken from a puppy or the clone would have a short life I understand.
    Personally if I had £63,000 it would go to the Dogs Trust to ensure other dogs had a better life.

  • theUKnaturalvet

    I agree – a thousand times no – this is just a gimmmick to remove £63,000 from trusting pet owners at a vulnerable time. Even if ’successful’ a cloned pet will not have the same character and personality as the original. Any vets who take part in cloning pets should be ashamed of their involvement.

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