Cloned Pets: Buyer Beware

Everyone who knows anything about genetics know that clones are not copies. They’re genetic copies (and even then not perfect copies, since for example, the cloning process does not copy mitochondrial DNA). A lot of different aspects of our environment exert a huge influence on how we turn out. That’s especially true of humans, complicated as we are. But it’s also true for animals. This becomes important as pet cloning starts being offered as a service.

From ABC News: Cloned Pets: Looks Can Be Deceiving

For the first time on Tuesday — $155,000 and a disgraced Korean scientist later — the Ottos of Boca Raton, Fla., met what they hope is the yellow Labrador retriever they had lived with for 11 years.

The couple this week welcomed into their home a 10-week-old puppy aptly named Sir Lancelot Encore, a genetic clone created in South Korea by a California biotech company from the DNA of the couple’s beloved dog Sir Lancelot, who died last year.

“He was a wonderful dog,” said Nina Otto, 66. “Money wasn’t an object. We just wanted our wonderful, loving dog back….”

Wait, wait…cloning won’t bring your dog back! Luckily, the story goes on to reveal that Otto seems to realize that:

Otto said she wanted her old dog back but is prepared for the possibility that Encore might look like his donor, but not act like him.

“Nobody is exactly like anybody else,” she said. “There was a 99 percent chance that he would look like Lancy and he does. He’s got the same eyes and coat. There is a 50-50 chance that he will act like him. We’re still the same people, a lot of the other dogs are the same, so there is a real chance he will have a similar personality….”

I wonder how many customers of this sort of service will realize that? I wonder how many sellers of such services will make sure their customers realize it?


About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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