Here's Everything You Need To Know About Cloning Your Pet

Bigger issue at hand


18 September 2018

Article heading image for Here's Everything You Need To Know About Cloning Your Pet

The loss of a pet can be devastating - after all, it's the passing of a loved member of the family and can leave a hole which is very difficult to fill.

Enter pet cloning, an emerging technology which claims to allow clients to bring home an exact replica of their furry friend. 

But is pet cloning all it's made out to be?

Dr Paula Parker, President of the Australian Veterinary Association, told the Hit Newsroom that the process is not as clear-cut as it may seem.

"The premise is that these two will then be genetic copies, but like we know from identical twins or puppies that are from the same litter that share genetic material, how animals and our pets grow up is a product of their environment, nutrition and socialisation experiences," Dr Parker said.

"So when your pet is cloned, they may have the genetic similarities but they're not going to be the same as the pet that they lost."

The process itself is a lot more complex than a mere 3D printing effort, with several animals involved in creating the copy.

"Cloning is a genetic technology where you take cells from one animal, and you take an embryo or egg from another, and you essentially smoosh them together to grow that embryo," Dr Parker said.

"There are a number of potential financial, ethical and animal welfare considerations that cloning brings up. We do know that it's not something that's really happening commercially in Australia, and most of the commercial reports are happening from an organisation in Korea.

"From the perspective of animal welfare is that to clone an animal, there are lots of other animals that need to be involved in the process. There is the animal that the eggs are harvested from, the surrogates and there are many cloning attempts that aren't successful before a clone is produced."

According to Dr Parker, for those pet owners who are considering cloning their pet, it speaks to a much larger issue at hand - the grieving process.

 

"The bond that we have with our pets means that they're like family members, and that's build over a long time and with lots of shared experiences," she said.

"So when we lose a pet, we've lost that friend and all of that experience. And just replacing that genetic material doesn't replace the life lived with that pet.

"The reason why people often turn to cloning is because they're going through the grief of losing a pet.

"So what we would encourage people to do is to reach out and talk to their vet and friends and family members, because it is grief that we experience, similar to other types of grief."

And if you decide that you are ready to open your heart again to a four-legged companion, Dr Parker suggested that perhaps a better idea would be to adopt.

"The other thing that we know is that there are lots and lots of other pets that are desperate for loving homes in shelters and pounds around Australia - so we would recommend that if people can, they give a cat or a dog a second chance in life."

Listen Live!