MUTTerings: The Cost of Cloning
Would you ever consider cloning your dog? Why the cost might be higher than the price tag.
Nikki Moustaki |
Posted: June 3, 2014, 2 p.m. PST
To date, more than 200 dogs have been cloned worldwide, the first being Snuppy, an Afghan Hound cloned in 2005 in Korea. Recently, the first cloned dog in Britain, a Dachshund named Mini Winnie, caused an Internet buzz. As with other stories of cloned dogs in the past, people on Internet forums waged the many ethical concerns with the cloning concept, not the least of which is the death of hundreds of female dogs who are implanted with hundreds of cloned embryos, of which only a very small percentage are viable and survive.
Mini Winnie a Dachshund cloned as part of a contest i the UK. Photo from ABC News
There are dozens of cruel practices associated with cloning, but my argument here is not with the practical science (though I could make a strong case against it – the details are pretty gory.) As someone who’s involved in dog rescue, my ethical concern is for the welfare of dogs not even remotely involved in the process.
It’s a known precept of rescue that every dog that someone buys from a pet store, two shelter dogs are killed – the dog in the cage and the dog that needed the space in that cage, but died because the first dog was in it. This is certainly a reductionist way to look at the fate of homeless dogs, but it’s fairly accurate.
It’s also a known precept of rescue that shelters and rescues are typically run on scant budgets and that fundraising is a necessary evil. If all of the time and money spent on fundraising was spent on spay and neuter programs and helping dogs to find homes, we’d have less of an overpopulation problem. But kibble isn’t free, so recues need funds, and people typically aren’t lining up to open their wallets.
Which brings me to wallets. Cloning one dog costs upward of fifty thousand dollars, often much more. For some small rescues that save hundreds of dogs per month, that can represent yearly, hard-fought budget.
I understand the desire to want to clone a dog. My "heart dog,” a silver Miniature Schnauzer named Pepper, passed away in my arms in 2012. He was my angel. If I had the chance to clone him, I probably would have given it serious consideration. He was an adorable, scrappy, intelligent, and affectionate little guy. But I would have eventually done what I did instead – adopt three other dogs.
Nikki and Pepper
One of the dogs I adopted was just a few hours from being forcibly sent to the Rainbow Bridge by the city pound – she cost me thirty dollars. The others were free (well, there’s no such thing as a free dog in the long run, but I didn’t pay for the dogs themselves). Pepper was gone. Though cloned dogs have identical DNA, they sometimes have different markings, and there's some doubt as to whether or not they will share the same behavioral patterns and personality. Life makes you move on, whether you want to or not – unless you have the money and inclination to clone your dog. But is that healthy?
Living in the past can create a lot of errors in judgment. Think of the fashion faux pas’ alone! In the case of cloning, I think the option of this technology creates a lack of foresight in people who feel that they can’t live without their dog, or that life would be unbearable or sadder somehow. If people who want to clone their beloved dogs would spend some time with a few other potential canine matches, or volunteer at a shelter for a few weeks, they will see that the heart can mend and will accept other furry friends into the spaces around those reserved for the "heart dog.”
How many wonderful homeless dogs could have been saved with the millions of dollars spent on the research and practical application of cloning dogs? I agree that the science is interesting, but just because something is interesting, does it mean that we – as human beings – have to undertake it?
I say to leave cloning dogs to the movies. Check out the movie The 6th Day starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, where people can have their pets cloned at the mall. If the day ever comes where that fantasy is made reality, I hope that we’ve advanced enough as a culture to no longer need dog shelters and rescues, because there are no longer homeless dogs.
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