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Re-Pet a Reality 482

tigerdarklord writes "The Sci-Fi concept of pet cloning has become a commercial venture. Genetic Savings & Clone now not only offers genebanking for your pet (alive or recently dead), but a full service cloning shop. Although they started by producing two clones of the CEO's cat, they have now produced their first commercial clone for a woman from Texas. GSC has modified their cloning procedure to overcome the resemblance issues demonstrated when the College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M, created CopyCat. The technology looks promising but the $50,000 price tag will prove to place the service out of the reach of most pet owners."
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Re-Pet a Reality

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  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:11PM (#11169117) Homepage Journal

    The technology looks promising but the $50,000 price tag will prove to place the service out of the reach of most pet owners.

    ... and they get a pet that looks like their deceased pet yet isn't. "Mittens 2.0 scratches my furniture, Mittens 1.0 didn't."
    If these people really loved animals and would quit trying to relive the past with a facsimile-pet the $50K (or less) would be better used if donated to a pet shelter for food and sterilization programs. And while they're there they could take home an animal currently on death row.
  • Yes, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cutting_Crew ( 708624 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:15PM (#11169167)
    didnt the lady say that everything about this cat is exactly alike? i imagine as time goes on and as the kitten grows to an adult(assuming the kitten lives that long) then some things will start happening that didnt happen before. i agree with one of the comments that for $50,000 she could have saved a lot of cats from being put to death, but rather found loving caring homes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:16PM (#11169178)
    These people are not and never will be ressurecting their loved dead pets. The pet that you loved is DEAD. Go save some pet that is actually still alive and save it from being gassed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:18PM (#11169215)
    If these people really loved animals and would quit trying to relive the past with a facsimile-pet the $50K (or less) would be better used if donated to a pet shelter for food and sterilization programs.

    If these people really loved animals, they wouldn't be sterilizing the poor things. Most pet-owners are not animal-lovers, they're just selfish bastards who want to have companions that they can control.
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:20PM (#11169238) Homepage Journal

    It seems to me that it's just a way to stop the grieving process to some extent

    Sure, it's natural to want to end personal suffering but the wait for the new animal and the eventual letdown of it not being identical to the clonee can't be healthy either. Grief is a natural part of being human. Yes, it sucks and that's why we have so many people medicated now (Feel Good Forever!)

    When my cat (Baby, 13 year old silver tabby I found as a wee kitten) dies, I know I'll be devastated. But having a Baby 2.0 running around isn't the same. I'd pick up another cat once I'm over grieving for her.
  • by jm92956n ( 758515 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:21PM (#11169246) Journal
    This whole experiment should solve the nature-vs-nurture controversy.

    Identical twins have existed throughout history, and yet the controversy still persists. This is hardly likely to provide any conclusive evidence.
  • by rjstanford ( 69735 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:21PM (#11169249) Homepage Journal
    If these people really loved animals and would quit trying to relive the past with a facsimile-pet the $50K (or less) would be better used if donated to a pet shelter for food and sterilization programs.

    Yeah, they could. Of course, people who loved animals could take the $3000 they spent on a new computer to replace their barely-a-year-old computer and donate it to a pet shelter as well. People spend money. The vast majority of it goes to things that other people think are "wasteful," at least in this country. The only thing that changes is the perspective.

    As to the wisdom of spending $50k on a cat - any cat - I'd say that it depends a lot on your overall financial picture.

    And as for cloning, well, that's another debate entirely. Two debates actually, one on the ethics of it and another one on the effectiveness. Ah, joy.
  • Mortality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plover ( 150551 ) * on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:21PM (#11169252) Homepage Journal
    It's weird that people have become so "undisciplined" that they can't accept death at the end of life. It lives, it breathes, it loves, but eventually it dies. All pets do, all people do. Does it hurt? Of course it does, I've cried so hard at the loss of a pet that I thought I'd never want another out of fear of the pain of the loss in the future. But it hasn't stopped me from getting other pets.

    Anyway, this is still a clone -- it's a different "instance" of the original animal (even if it's made via a copy constructor.) It won't have "genetic memory" of its new owner, it will be a completely different pet. Why spend $50,000? Why not spend $100 at the pound, or a few hundred from a quality breeder, or even a "FREE KITTYS" from a farm?

    I see this as only catering to the clinically insane. The rich, clinically insane, but insane nonetheless. Oh, well, I suppose if there's cash to be made, why not make it? ...

  • by Richie1984 ( 841487 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:25PM (#11169293)
    Sure, it's natural to want to end personal suffering but the wait for the new animal and the eventual letdown of it not being identical to the clonee can't be healthy either.

    Exactly. Having Pet Dog V2 running around would just be a constant reminder of V1. Your pet dies, you deal with it. I have lots of pet dogs and it never ever ever gets easier, but death is an important part of life.
  • by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:25PM (#11169300) Homepage Journal
    You are so right. What does she know about what she wants and how to spend her money?

    In fact, we should appoint grub Emperor, so he can make sure we all always make smart decisions. I'd hate to be caught spending my money on things I want instead of using it for a charity that has grub's favor.

    Thanks for your valuable input.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:25PM (#11169301)
    So I wonder how this will effect Dog/Cat shows. What happens when winners start cloning their animals and when every year. Will we start to see rules in competions like this saying that clones may not compete.

    And continue the thought, what happens then when we start cloning ourselves and we have 6 Micheal Jordons playing against 6 Larry Birds? Doesn't each clone have the right as an individual to play if they want? Should rules about clones apply or not?
  • Re:Unethical (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KrancHammer ( 416371 ) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .ttaMesnuG.> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:28PM (#11169321)
    I wasn't talking about the wasteful spending. That's none of my business. I am talking about bringing another cat with so much fuss and expense into the world when there are so many unwanted pets in shelters. That's wasteful and a damn shame.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:30PM (#11169345)
    The customers of these guys are funding our future. Before criticizing them, consider, they're giving us
    • safe and affordable organ transplants from our own cloned tissue
    • endangered species returning.
    • extinct species returning.
    • opportunities for better cheap foods
    • ultimately contributing to our immortality
    Getting cloning out of the hands of a few drug companies who want to profit from the rest of the world's ignorance will create industries and opportunities we can't even imagine today.

    Once the price falls from $50000 to $50, and they clone organs of humans, medicine will never be the same.

  • by museumpeace ( 735109 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:31PM (#11169360) Journal
    its fair to mod this funny but do keep in mind that your PTO grants patents on plants. In particular, plant species newly discovered or produced for the first time by some form of hybridization...so what, other than religous dogma, would keep them from granting patents on strains of cat or dog? The notion of proprietary interest in a particular compliment of genes is established in law and the way breeders try to make money off dogs, cats, goldfish and, of course, race horses pretty well establishes the monitary motivation for those proprietary interests in genetic "Intellectual Property"...go ahead and laugh...That's what many do when they should be scared.
  • by rmpotter ( 177221 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:39PM (#11169431) Homepage
    "Looks promising", eh?

    No, just another example flagrant consumption -- commodity fetishism at its worst. Even life has a price for those who can afford it. As other have pointed out, $50,000 could have helped relieve a lot of suffering for people and animals alike.

    Looked at another way, its just another example of our society's pathological fear of death. The Egyptians also had an major death fear/fetish and they even mumified their pet cats once in a while -- but at least they buried them!

    And American soldiers are dying by the score to help preserve that way of life. Another sad day for the planet.

  • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:42PM (#11169466)

    ...the $50K (or less) would be better used...

    The odd thing about money is that it follows a conservation principle... it's never destroyed, it just changes form.

    $50k was just liberated from somebody who didn't need it. Half of it went into taxes (on the operation, the materials for the operation, the salaries for the employees etc), the other half was distributed among those who performed the operation.

    You could argue that it was a $50k investment towards the practitioners of vetrenary science, which I'm sure bennefits the rest of society somehow.

    I have no problem with wealthy people spending money on frivilous things. It does bug me though when they spend it on things which hurt everyone else... like gas-guzzling cars, old growth wood, clothes made from slave labour, stuff like that.

    IMHO, the greater harm was done just by creating another cat rather than saving one from a shelter... the $50k is better liberated regardless of how or why... and the harm done isn't that big a deal.

  • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @01:58PM (#11169628) Homepage Journal
    You're missing a few very vital points.

    Your advice assumes the following:

    The pet owner actually had their pet as a companion, instead of as a status symbol.

    The dead pet isn't a purebred that already costs close to $50k

    A cloned pet won't become the SUV like status symbol of the next decade.

    Said Pet owner actually loves animals instead of using them as accessories.

    People understand that memories and training are NOT part of what's cloned.

    People understand that any similarity in behavior between the clone and the original pet is coincidental

    People have brains.

    People care about shelter animals.

    Now, I can understand making these assumptions. You sound like the kind of person where these assumptions apply. You clearly care about animals and want to see them cared for and happy. Good for you. I applaud you and your intentions.

    Just remember, there is most likely enough wealthy people who do NOT meet the above assumptions to make cloning pets a profitable venture.
  • Re:Mortality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scribblej ( 195445 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @02:03PM (#11169697)
    I think if you look through the history of humankind, you'll find that we haven't "become undisciplined" -- fear and denial of death is something that has existed since the very beginning of recorded history.

    Witness religion, countless billions of men who are so bent on not-dying they've invented fairy tales about how death really isn't.

    As for cloning, I couldn't agree with you more. What you are getting is at best the equivalent of a twin of your old animal. Twins, even identical twins, can be very different people.

  • by Bearpaw ( 13080 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @02:07PM (#11169760)
    The client claims that the cloned cat has the same personality as its donor...but then again, how closely was this one raised to its predecessor?

    A better question to ask is how delusional the client is.

    Look, my partner I have a cat (or maybe vice-versa). We're damned fond of her, and we like to pretend we understand her, but we're both smart enough to know that our perception of her personality is massively garbled by the fact that we're human and she's not. There is no friggin' way that this woman's claim that Little Nicky's personality is "identical" to Nicky's is anything other than wishful thinking.

    Our cat is dying. When she's dead, we'll miss her, but she will be dead. Even if $50,000 was pocket change to us, we wouldn't clone her because it'd be a really shallow way to treat our memories of her.

  • Re:Mortality (Score:2, Insightful)

    by XPisthenewNT ( 629743 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @02:26PM (#11169991) Homepage
    Indeed! Afterlife is the carrot they dangle to get you to accept religion.
  • Re:Mortality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yndrd1984 ( 730475 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @02:39PM (#11170137)
    I see this as only catering to the clinically insane. The rich, clinically insane, but insane nonetheless.

    Yeah, people that buy weird things must be insane. /sarcasm

    Oh, well, I suppose if there's cash to be made, why not make it?

    "Why not indeed!?!" -Bender /humorous quotes

    1. Is this stupider than feeding the original cat caviar three meals a day? It's their money.
    2. "Diciplined" people accept death? I never thought of 'diciplined' and 'wussy' as synonyms.
    3. When vets/genetic researchers/Jurassic Park people use this type of technology to do something good/useful (OK, scratch the JP people), and it's easier/cheaper to do since the businesses already exist, what will you say then?

    Also, this may not be perfect, but why not annoy the Grim Reaper a little, right? :)


  • Re:Mortality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by incom ( 570967 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @02:55PM (#11170289)
    If I had the money, I'd be interested in this FOR the genetic reasons, not some mystical notion of it copying the brain state/ experiences of the animal. Not to mention this funds the advancement of the entire science of cloning, which I find to be a very good thing.
  • by quax ( 19371 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @02:57PM (#11170320)
    I am not all opposed to researching cloning, but I find the ethics of the lady who paid to get her tomcat cloned rather appalling.

    The cloned pet will probably suffer from health problems like infamous Dolly did.

    On the other hand how many animals could have been saved if this lady would have gotten another cat at her local pound and donated the $50000 to it?

    It is hard for me to think of anything else more egoistical than subjecting your next pet to physical suffering just because you are too immature to handle the loss.
  • by Jim Starx ( 752545 ) <JStarx@nospAM.gmail.com> on Thursday December 23, 2004 @03:34PM (#11170679)
    That line of logic can be applied to every convenience that we have beyond the basic necessities.

    Do you own a microwave?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2004 @05:25PM (#11171737)
    People who read about cloning don't realize that the cloned cells have shortened telomeres.

    I would have thought that people who read about cloning would actually be more likely to know about this than people who don't.
  • Re:Immortality? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Joe Tie. ( 567096 ) on Thursday December 23, 2004 @05:49PM (#11172020)
    Don't they say in that movie "Death becomes her" that at the very end of the movie at Dr. Ernest Menville's death, the narrator that he lives on through his progeny?

    I hate that sentement. It's given rise to uncountable generations of children being forced into attempts to live out their parents dreams. I'd find it great if we did live on through our children, but we don't. It'd be even more correct from both a biological, and psychological standpoint to say we live on in surviving siblings. We share much more geneticly with them, and were raised in exactly the same environment. If I took a bullet to the head, it wouldn't give me much comfort to know I had a brother as 'backup' though. Ideas of religious afterlife aside, when you're dead I don't see one living on as anything. You're only living on in the sense that the easter bunny is living on.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2004 @06:21PM (#11172349)
    Well, there are some understandable uses if the genetic makeup of your pet, rather than the individual pet itself, is what you're hoping to preserve.

    For instance, my father is a cowboy, and the horse that he used to have was the last of its breed. He was quite intelligent, and was basically able to herd cattle by itself just like a sheep dog would herd sheep, as he had memorized the layout of the land and the position of the corrals. During the summers while I was in elementary school, I used to help them out on branding drives, which basically meant I would sit on the horse, hold on tight, and just let him do the driving :P. Apparently this was an attribute that was common amongst that breed. Unfortunately, he was a gelding, so that breed died with him.

    I wouldn't expect a clone of that horse to share that horse's personality. On the other hand, there are some common attributes/tendencies that definitely are affected by an animal's breed/genetic makeup. For instance, border collies are generally quite intelligent, and rottweilers have a tendency to be aggressive. The article's assertion that the personality of an animal is completely unaffected by its genetic makeup is pure unfounded BS. Breeders have been selecting both for and against personality traits with great success for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. There will be outliers, of course, but good breeders are able to create a noticeable (i.e., statistically significant) change in the frequency of occurence of the target attribute. The ranch at which my father works has been selecting against aggressive behavior in their cattle for decades, and it shows. Likewise, bulls bred specifically for use in rodeos come from lines that have a strong tendency towards aggressive behavior.

    That horse was like a family member to us, and I would never expect a clone to replace him, but preserving his genetic makeup is something that I would have considered if given the chance. This kind of case isn't very common, of course, but there definitely are uses for cloning. You just have to understand what it can and cannot do.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982