Imagine you had the most amazing dog that ever lived — and then he died.
But the good news? You also have $100,000 to clone two more just like him!
Ken and Henry (not pictured) were cloned from Melvin, a beloved mutt Dr. Phillip Dupont, a veterinarian in Louisiana, and his wife Paula lost a few years ago.
“They’re so much like Melvin it’s unreal,” Phillip Dupont tells NPR of the adorable pooches, which are two of about 600 dogs that have been cloned since scientists at South Korea’s Sooam Biotech developed the technology to do so.
The Duponts decided to clone the pup they originally paid $50 for because he “was different,” said Phillip.
“He listened,” he added. “You could talk to him and you swore he understood what you were talking about. It was weird.”
When Melvin was 9 years old the Duponts consulted with a lab in South Korea, NPR reports, and decided to shell out the pricey $100,000 to clone him. The first time was a failure: the cloned puppy died from distemper. But the second time, Ken and Henry were born — and actually got to meet Melvin before he died.
Though the dogs have brought much joy to their lives — and helped during the healing process following Melvin’s death — cloning still isn’t favored by all.
“I think there are probably better ways to spend $100,000 if you really care about animals,” Insoo Hyun, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, tells NPR. “If you love dogs and you really want to have your companion animal cloned, you really do need to take very seriously the health and well-being of all the dogs that would be involved in this process.”
Hyun says that cloning involves many surgical procedures and the use of other dogs to serve as egg donors and surrogates — which could be deemed cruel especially since sickly dogs are often produced. And, Hyun stresses, exact replicas are not the end product.
“All cloning does is reproduce the genome of your original pet,” Hyun said. “But maybe the way your dog interacted with you — and even the way it looks — was also strongly environmentally influenced.”
Nevertheless, the Duponts are happy with their decision to bring Ken and Henry into the world and told NPR they are talking about cloning another canine for their grandson. To read more of their interview, click here.