It might sound like something out a cheap sci-fi flick, but there truly is a dog cloning lab in South Korea. The facility prides itself on performing commercial dog cloning services, and believe it or not, it’s a real thing. Pet owners the world over have utilized the facility to preserve their beloved pets in clone form.
Cloning technology is far from new (remember Dolly the sheep?), but restrictive laws in the United States mean that it’s illegal to clone your pet here. That’s not stopping U.S. citizens from accessing the services of South Korea’s dog cloning lab, though. According to Elite Daily, the commercial South Korean dog cloning lab has done its thing for clients the world over, from the United States to France. The price? The going rate for dog cloning at the South Korea lab is $100,000.
According to the reports, the South Korea dog cloning lab is the only place in the world where you can get your pet dog cloned. Despite the seemingly exorbitant going rate of $100,000 per dog, the cloning lab is going strong. The dog cloning lab indicates that it has already cloned 780 dogs for customers the world over. That’s over three-quarters of a million dollars worth of cloned dogs.
So, what makes someone pay six figures to get their dog cloned? According to most customers of the dog cloning lab, the reason boils down to love.
According to some reports, while customers of the dog cloning lab don’t expect differences between a cloned dog and a non-cloned dog, that’s not precisely the case. For some reason, genetic “enhancements” are more noticeable in cloned dogs vs. non-cloned dogs.
The dog cloning lab, Sooam Biotech, has been cloning dogs for years now, reports Tech Insider. The process of dog cloning is surprisingly simple, according to reports, so long as you can overcome the biggest obstacle — the cost. All customers need is a cell sample from their donor dog, $100,000, and time. According to one customer, the cloned dogs often act exactly the same as the “donor dogs.”
While the word “clone” may instill fear or dread in the hearts and minds of humans, these dogs, cloned in labs for their owners’ pleasure, don’t know they’ve been cloned. From their point of view, they’re they same as naturally conceived pups. The technology works for virtually all dog breeds, and like all internationally-transported dogs, they have to undergo a quarantine period before they move from their home in the lab to their forever homes around the world.
Sooam, the dog cloning lab, tells the media that it’s capable of cloning any dog, no matter the age, size or breed. Similar to human IVF rates, roughly one-in-three cloned dog embryos will develop into a healthy puppy. During the cloning process, the dog cloning lab will frequently house 40 to 60 cloned dogs in their specialized “care rooms.”
Infant clones, known as “puppies” in the non-cloning world, are housed with their surrogate mothers. Interestingly enough, when it comes to surrogate dog moms, they don’t have to be the same breed as their cloned pup’s. This disparity can lead to some unexpected mom/puppy pairings.
Despite lab-cloned puppies sharing the same DNA as their predecessors, there are no guarantees that puppies from the dog cloning lab in South Korea will share the same personality or temperament as their genetic donors.
Because no pet can be truly duplicated, some have accused the dog cloning lab in South Korea of “predatory behavior,” in a sense preying on the emotions of people who have lost a beloved pet — and making a killing in the process.
It’s obvious that distraught pet owners disagree with the ethical consensus, and are willing to pay $100,000 to have their beloved dog “resurrected.”
The Sooam dog cloning lab doesn’t cater solely to wealthy and grieving dog owners. Indeed, the dog cloning lab rakes in much of its revenue by cloning “genetically gifted working dogs.” (Think police dogs and search-and-rescue dogs.) The dog cloning lab makes millions of dollars each year doing this, even famously cloning Trakr, a famous search-and-rescue dog that pulled the last survivor from the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
If you want to use the dog cloning lab to clone your dog, the process is pretty simple. First, you have to come up with the $100,000. Then, you have to harvest the right kind of cells. This is easier to do with a still-living “donor dog,” but can be accomplished with any dog that’s been dead for five days or less. All you have to do is take your pooch to the vet for a biopsy sample (a piece of skin from the abdomen measuring about half the width of a penny), then send that sample to Sooam. If you’re getting the samples from a dead dog, you are going to want to send as many as possible to increase the chances of the lab fining living cells, as morbid as that may sound.
Once the dog cloning lab biologists have their cell samples, they just put them into a growth medium. From that point, they wait a couple of weeks until they have the cells needed for the dog cloning process.
It’s at this point that the dog cloning lab enters its most controversial territory. It operates on two dogs provided by a “lab-animal provider.” One is the egg donor and the other the surrogate dog mother. Once the dog cloning lab uses them for its purposes, they are returned to be rented out again for research purposes.
After about 61 days, the cloned puppy will hopefully be born alive and well.
Such operations (egg extraction, embryo insertion) happen over 20 times per day at the dog cloning lab. It’s also important to note that no sperm is needed in the dog cloning process. The donor dog’s genetic material “acts as a sperm in natural reproduction.”
What do you think? Is this an appropriate use of scientific technology? Or is a dog cloning lab an abuse of science?
[Image Courtesy Of O.M./Shutterstock]