This is a hugely holier than thou article written by a strident anti-abortionist, but it’s quite interesting in that a) you can clone your puppy commercially and b) it’s absolutely not a perfected science.
You have five days after your pet dies to extract its genetic material for cloning, according to the Seoul-based Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, which offers dog and cat cloning services. The company recommends wrapping the deceased in wet blankets and throwing them into the fridge before you send the package. From there, scientists will harvest tissue and eggs, usually from slaughterhouses, then transfer them into surrogate mothers via in vitro fertilization.
It can take dozens of artificial inseminations into a mother animal’s womb to get a single egg to gestation. When that mother finally does give birth — there are scores of these surrogate mothers whose only job is to be filled with needles until they conceive, and then do it again — what’s born might be a genetic copy of the original, but it isn’t a perfect copy.
When I picked up Onruang’s pups and examined them head to hock — they weighed maybe three pounds a piece — I saw surprising amounts of subtle variations in markings and size.
When an animal is cloned, the donor — the mother carrying the clone — contributes extremely low levels of mitochondrial DNA. “That’s the variation which can account for differing color patterns and other unknowns,” says Doug Antczak, a veterinary scientist at Cornell University who specializes in horse genetics.
What’s eventually passed to the cloned pet buyer is a reasonable facsimile, something good enough to the naked eye that they’ll say: “That’s my dog!” And here’s where the scale of this production might — or should — give pause.
Many clones are born with defects and genetic disorders, and since those imperfections aren’t what their buyer is spending tens of thousands of dollars on, they end up discarded.
if that cloned dog does make it through the gauntlet — but is missing the spot over its eye that a deceased pet had, for instance — it still faces a swift death via euthanasia, just another pile of genetic material to harvest.
“There’s too many mistakes, too many stillbirths, deformities, and mutations,” warns Chris Cauble, a Glendale, California, veterinarian whose mobile service offers tissue collection for cloning pets.