By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Erin Sherbert
By Rachel Swan
By Joe Eskenazi
By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
The Koreans are kicking our ass. That's right, we are no longer No. 1 when it comes to pet cloning. South Korea has just cloned the world's first dog. It goes by the name Snuppy. Way to go Korea!
The Bay Area itself is filled with evidence of cloning. Go to such places as the Arrow Bar and you'll find a strong appearance of cloning, being as everyone there has the exact same stupid '80s paint-by-number haircut. It's like they all got on some large bus and were taken to a remote beauty-salon factory and given the same damn coiffure, so they can now sit around pouting, as if to say, "Yes, we are all individuals! We are all unique!"
Elsewhere, Korean scientists are cloning for the greater good. They plan to use it to advance stem cell science and medicine. Way to go, good-for-humanity-doers!
In the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie The 6th Day, however, a pet-cloning company called RePet uses cloning for pet lovers, rather than science, promising this to pet owners: "Should accident, illness or age end your pet's natural life, our proven genetic technology can have him or her back the same day, in perfect health, with zero defects, GUARANTEED."
A real-life company in Sausalito called Genetic Savings and Clone (note: It has a funny name) now offers a similar sort of service. GS&C is the world's leader in the "cloning of exceptional pets." (Right now only cats are exceptional.) Yes, unlike those whiny Koreans, the purpose of GS&C is not for the advancement of science, but for pet lovers! Everyone loves pets! Especially those who dress them up in people clothes, like sweaters, and then take pictures of them. That, my friends, is simply a-dorable.
"Cloning is the most precise method of duplicating a pet -- both for appearance and behavioral tendencies," the GS&C Web site says.
Since opening its doors, GS&C has cloned six cats, two for paying customers at a cost of $32,000 per feline. The cloning hijinks began back in 2002 as part of a $3.7 million research project, cleverly dubbed "Operation Copycat" (again with the funny names!), paving the way, as if the researchers were something like Lewis & Clark discovering the Missouri River, only for, well, cat cloning.
GS&C launched its first commercial cat-cloning service, "Nine Lives Extravaganza" (what's with the funny names?!), in February 2004, after five years of research and development. Though cloning is pricey, it's a mere $295 to $1,395 for gene banking, a process in which one saves the DNA of a pet in anticipation of future cloning. Sounds clone-tastic!!!
Conversely, the Korean scientists were quick to note that they do not support the cloning of pets, "or any other members of our family," saying nuclear transfer should be restricted to medical research. Quit being a bunch of big babies, Korea.
Pet cloning seems one step closer to the day when it will be common practice to clone humans -- and I like that! Posing as a potential customer with a boatload of questions, I called Genetic Savings and Clone (note: Name's still funny) to get the full rundown.
To gain a glimpse of the near-distant future (when humans will be cloned!!!), I'll replace the word "cat" with the word "grandma" ("dog" will be rendered as "grandpa") in my conversation with a GS&C representative. This will also make the conversation seem like something out of an evil Gov. Arrrrrnold sci-fi movie, which is never a bad thing.
"Genetic Savings and Clone [funny name -- no argument there]; this is JT."
"Hi. I wanted to know more about how your cloning service works. Is it just grandmas or does it work for grandpas as well?"
"We offer gene banking for both grandmas and grandpas. But as far as cloning services go, we just offer it for grandmas," the cloning rep tells me. "Grandpas are coming shortly, most likely in the next 12 months or so."
"So I wouldn't have to bring my grandma down to the office to do this?" I ask.
"No, she goes to a vet," JT explains; the veterinarian is sent a kit with the tools and instructions necessary to take gene samples and ship them back to the lab. "They are going to do a punch biopsy on your grandma, which is virtually a real common procedure that all vets have done."
"Is there anything that prevents my grandma's genes from not being preserved?" I ask with mild concern. "Like what if I have an injured grandma."
"That could affect some samples," JT replies. "What type of injury are you talking about?"
"My grandma was hit by a car!"
"Is she deceased right now?"
"OK, she's still alive," the GS&C rep remarks. "That should be fine."
Obstacles are explained. Genetic cloning samples can't be taken from a cancerous area. Another factor, though rare, is contamination. "Really most of the time we usually see failures is when we try and get tissue samples from a deceased grandma," he says. "Pretty much right after the death, the clock starts ticking; the sample starts to deteriorate. They need to be refrigerated almost immediately -- either the grandma or the samples. During postmortem is sometimes when we run into problems. That's when we find that those samples are not viable."