The UK is famously a nation of dog-lovers. And why wouldn’t we be? Dogs are the perfect pets: cuddly, loyal, and cuter than a giggling baby (not to mention less expensive).
But how far would you go to keep your pet pooch in your life?
One British couple have recently celebrated the birth of a puppy they had cloned from their previous dog, for the small sum of £67,000. No, that’s not a typo. £67,000. For that price tag you could travel the world. Get a snazzy new car. Buy a solid gold crisp packet. Maybe even have enough to buy a multi-pack of Freddos.
To put it into perspective: the normal price for the breed in question (Boxer) would be about £700 from a good quality seller. So what exactly explains this price jump?
For one, this wasn’t just any old puppy. After losing their beloved dog Dylan earlier this year, the couple decided to use Sooam Biotech Research Foundation’s dog cloning service – the only place in the world offering such a programme. And this new canine clone has set a record as it was cloned almost two weeks after the dog’s death, rather than the previous record of five days.
The cloning was a success, and a second cloned puppy was born just two days later. The couple have been quoted as being thrilled to have dogs with 100% the same genes as Dylan.
Cloning has always been met with trepidation. Almost every time it has been the centre of discussion, even people who have never shown any religious persuasion begin to wax lyrical on how it is wrong to “play God”. It has been smeared as unethical ‘Frankenscience’ and the notion has found itself the villain in many modern horror and sci-fi films.
Personally, I think cloning is brilliant. Just 150 years ago we didn’t even know about germs. Now we can recreate animals just from implanting DNA into an egg with no nucleus. As a species we are reaching unparalleled heights. But when the matter of cloning is based on personal grief rather than scientific gain, how ethical is it really?
Thousands of dogs in the UK need adopting or re-homing. When shelters are filled with pets that need a home, how fair can it really be to spend thousands of pounds just to have a dog with the same DNA and markings as your previous pet? No matter how similar it may look, it’s not the same. It might not like the same treats. It might not do that glorious leg-twitchy thing when you catch the right part of its belly. Its farts might not be quite so overpoweringly-disgusting or have the power to clear a room. It just won’t be the same.
I’ve been there. Just last year I lost my lifelong friend. She was a beautiful Border Collie who had seen me grow from a toddler to an adult. Then she was gone. Yes I grieved. Yes I cried. Yes I still miss her.
But would I clone her, knowing about all of the animals out there that need a safe and caring home? No I wouldn’t.
It’s clear to see how much this couple must have loved their dog. I have no doubt these cloned pups will have amazing lives and be cared for brilliantly. But when there are so many animals out there that weren’t so lucky when it came to finding their ‘forever home’ the first time around, it’s worth considering how grief can be used to channel love where it is needed.
And because no article on dog cloning could be complete without it, now you can revisit that Futurama episode…