GIVE THE DOG A CLONE: THE grief of losing a beloved pet can be too much to bear for some people. But thanks to today’s pet cloning industry, you can now be reunited with your cuddly companion in a matter of months after their death – if you can afford it.
It’s been 25 years since the birth of Dolly the sheep, the first clone of an adult mammal in history.
Now cloning is an everyday reality for wealthy pet owners around the world who splurge tens of thousands to get an identical copy of their treasured animals.
And as the pandemic brought millions of us closer to our pets than ever before, business is booming for cloning companies.
Clamour for clones
There are several international labs offering the sci-fi service to well-heeled clients, including ViaGen Pets in Texas.
The firm will make a genetically identical copy of your dog for $50,000 (£36,000) – a service used by the likes of Barbra Streisand to get over the grief of their lost loved ones.
ViaGen is now the world’s largest commercial provider of cloned pets including dogs, but they also do cats for $35,000 (£25,000) and horses for $85,000 (£61,000).
Most of their clients are based in the US, but growing numbers of pet owners in the UK have also sought out their services.
“As with other segments of the pet industry, we’ve seen an increase in demand during the pandemic,” says Melain Rodriguez, a Client Service Manager at ViaGen.
“With more families being home with their pets, more are realising their pets are family members, providing the comfort needed during uncertain times.”
The way cloning works is through a process called “somatic cell nuclear transfer”.
Scientists take an egg from, say, a donor dog and remove the egg’s nucleus – the part which contains DNA.
They then insert a cell from the dog that’s being cloned, typically taken from its skin, before using an electric blast to fuse the cells together.
Once cell division begins, the embryo is implanted into a surrogate dog’s womb and, if the pregnancy is successful, a clone is born around two months later.
The cloned puppies then spend the first months of their lives with their surrogate mother before being brought home by their new owners.
Source: The Sun UK