Louisiana residents Phillip Dupont and wife Paula are the proud owners of their two dogs Ken and Henry. If you saw these two dogs on the street, you wouldn’t think much of them, except maybe that they’re brothers since they look so much alike. Well, these dogs are even closer than siblings. Ken and Henry are genetic clones of the Dupont’s late dog, Melvin.
Melvin was the beloved mutt of the Duponts, and as Melvin aged, the couple realized that they could not bear to let their furry, one-of-a-kind friend go. Therefore, they paid a whopping $100,000 for a lab in South Korea to take some of Melvin’s skin cells and inject them into a donor egg, thus producing Ken and Henry.
Although Ken and Henry are not exact copies of Melvin, their resemblances, both physically and in terms of personality, are uncanny. The Duponts are so happy with their results, and now that Melvin has passed, they can still feel his presence through Ken and Henry.
Cloning is still a developing field of research, and a controversial one at that. Its pros are strong, and keep the research going. They say that a dog is a man’s best friend, so when someone loses his or her dog, it can be devastating. Cloning provides a way to carry on a deceased dog’s legacy, making the owner’s grieving process much easier. Cloning also demonstrates how advanced science has become. It helps clue us in on how DNA replication works, further developing the world’s understanding of how animals reproduce and function. Moreover, cloning as a whole can even help the world from a conservation perspective. Through cloning, scientists can help save endangered species by creating genetic replicas that can contribute to multiplying the species and steering it away from extinction.
Countering all those cloning positives, however, is the endless list of arguments against cloning. It goes against Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory, making it a strange and unnatural process. It interferes with the cycle of life, and manipulates death. Cloning starts to play a God-like role. Because of this, many believe that cloning is inauthentic. Cloning is also ethically questionable because it involves animals undergoing surgery, and may result in clones that have health issues. It seems like the $100,000 that go toward cloning could potentially be put to better use, in terms of saving animals.
On a more personal level, if someone clones his pet, there is no way to guarantee that the clone will be the same as the original. Although a clone is genetically identical to its original, the genes that transfer over do not necessarily yield a replicated physical appearance, and factors, such as environmental ones, can alter the animal’s personality. The cloning process is a bit of a gamble.
The Duponts may have had superb results with their cloned dogs, but would you clone your pet? Personally, I don’t think I could. I find that there is something just a bit too uncomfortable about it all. Then again, I do see both sides to the argument. With its debatable sides, it’s hard to tell where cloning will go from here. Either way, for better or worse, cloning will always be a fascinating subject, catching scientists’ interest and challenging the strength of human capabilities.