Why You Should Never Clone Your Dog
"Most people are unaware of the consequences of cloning a new puppy, which requires an entire team of female dogs forced into cooperation."
Last year, Barbra Streisand’s beloved dog, Samantha, passed away at the age of 14. However, earlier in the year, Streisand had Samantha cloned - not once, but twice. She now has two new dogs - Miss Scarlett and Miss Violet - who were created from cells residing in Sammie’s mouth and stomach.
Dog cloning is a fairly new practice, with the first successful experiment taking place in 2005. A South Korean team genetically created a pair of Afghan hound puppies for the ear skin of an older dog. Since then, the science behind dog cloning has advanced considerably. There is now a South Korean lab who have claimed to carry out the procedure over 600 times - at a price of $100,000 per attempt. There is also a company in Texas who can do the same for a more reasonable $50,000... oh, and they also clone cats for half the price.
The majority of people clone their pets for the same reason: love. No one wants to face the grief of losing their furry companion forever. Love, and the prospect of saying goodbye to a beloved family member, makes paying so much money for a clone, seem a little more reasonable. However, the costs of cloning your pets go well beyond financial aspects.
This seems pricier still when you discover that cloning man’s best friend only works about one third of the time. What’s more, part of the process uses other dogs as surrogates, and can cause them to miscarry unnecessarily, sometimes more than once. These surrogate mothers are extensively treated with hormones, and often forced to ‘mate’ with neutralised male dogs. Worker dogs are also forced to donate their eggs. Essentially, dog cloning is a feminist issue, as creating a new puppy requires an entire team of female dogs forced into cooperation. This poses the question, that if someone loves dogs enough to clone one, why would they put other dogs through unnecessary suffering?
It seems humanity can assign dogs very different moral habitats. For one, they can be seen as man’s best friend - a trust-worthy and extremely lovable companion - whilst others, are used to advance scientific discovery, treated as objects for the benefit of our curiosity (and to make money). Both the Humane Society of the United States, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have spoken out against cloning pets. Not only do they express deep concerns about the treatment and welfare of the animals involved in the cloning industry, but they also make a point about animal shelters. Currently, there are millions of dogs in shelters waiting for loving homes, and potentially facing an early death by euthanasia. As a culture obsessed with pets, we are responsible for their wellbeing.
Cloning your dog will not bring your dog back. A dog’s behaviour and personality cannot be genetically coded. Even Barbra Streisand claims her two cloned puppies have different personalities - to each other, and to the original dog, Samantha. Cloning reinforces problematic perspectives surrounding how we see dogs in our society. For us, the value of dogs is based only on our emotional attachment to them, rather than who they are as individuals.
Our dogs are exceptional, and for that reason, we should not try to recreate them through the means of cloning. Choosing to “adopt, not shop”, not only gives an unwanted dog a home, but also respects and honours the natural life cycle of your pet, and doesn’t support the abuse of worker dogs in the cloning industry. Losing a pet is sad, but it is inevitable. By becoming comfortable with loss and grief, we can better understand our own humanity. Our relationship with our pets has to be a give and take, their lives need to be respected, and their idiosyncrasies acknowledged. Cloning makes the relationship solely about our needs, tainting the love that exists between us.