The cloning of pets is a controversial subject. Even among those who agree with the idea, the cost of the procedure is so high that only a small segment of the population can afford it. Cloning is basically using the DNA of an animal to produce another animal. This is done in a lab by fertilizing an egg and results in an exact copy -- basically a twin -- of the original animal.
Making Cloning a Reality
The first cloned pet was a cat, which her Texas owner paid $50,000 to clone. The first commercially cloned dog belongs to a California couple who in 2012 paid $155,000 to have their Golden Retriever cloned.
There are currently no American companies offering pet cloning, so if you decide to do it, you'll have to go abroad. The world's first commercial cloning company -- and currently the only one offering cloning services to private individuals -- is located in South Korea. Sooam Biotech's cloning services run approximately $100,000 for the cloning of a dog; there's a waiting list of about six months.
To clone your pet with Sooam Biotech, your vet will need to conduct a biopsy and take a few vials of cells from your pet. These are then sent to the lab in Korea, where the scientists get to work.
Alternatives to Cloning
If you can't afford to clone your furry friend but you want to do it, consider a company that does the next best thing, preserving your pet's DNA for future cloning.
Companies like Viagen sell special kits that allow your veterinarian to take small biopsy samples from your pet. These samples contain the genetic material that makes your pet unique; they can used in the future to clone your animal. For a one-time fee of $1,600, as of June 2015, Viagen will preserve this DNA until you're ready to clone your pet. Viagen does not provide cloning services -- they only preserve the material.
Does Cloning Work?
Cloning is not exactly like you see in the movies. A cloned pet will have the exact same DNA as the original pet, meaning the two animals will physically be the same. When it comes to personality and behavior, however, things are more complicated. Cloned pets are created by preparing an embryo at a lab and then implanting it in an animal who will carry it until the kitten or puppy is born. Personality is affected by environment, so cloned pets will not necessarily end up with the same personality if they have different experiences.