Dog cloning business sparks debate


When Lou Hawthorne looks at Mira, he thinks of his dog Missy. When she died in 2002, Hawthorne worked with scientists around the world to clone her to get Mira.

"Over and over everyday - I see behavior that is so similar. There are differences as well but I am enjoying those also," said Lou Hawthorne, CEO Bioarts.

Hawthorne is CEO of Bioarts, and says his company has the sole worldwide license to clone dogs, cats and endangered species. And for five days, starting July 5th, you too can bid on cloning your dog.

"It's the culmination of a decade of work to clone Missy and then to offer the service to the public. We want to have closure on this project. Secondly, there is a very good chance we'll make money, said Hawthorne.

Online bidding at starts at $100,000. That is way too much money for Tom Gregory of Oakland, who would love to clone his dog, Maya. So he's entering the essay contest on where the winner can have their dog cloned for free.

"When you have a dog with this kind of temperament and this kind of gratitude for being alive, you want to keep that going for as long as you can," said Gregory.

But some say there is a darker side to the world of animal cloning, and some of those critics are members of the Marin Humane Society.

"A lot of these animals spend time in small cages; they're subjected to invasive procedures, painful invasive procedures - implanting the embryos and eggs," said Neil Trent, Exec. Director Marin Humane Society.

Trent also says the success rate for cloning is very low, cloned puppies have serious health issues, and cloned dogs may be quite different from the original. Plus, says Trent, with tens of thousands of animals euthanized every year in the Bay Area alone, there is no need for a new way to produce more dogs.

Hawthorne contends cloning will add virtually nothing to the dog population and is another option, like shelters and breeding.

"If you have a specific individual animal that you love that has worked beautifully for your lifestyle, you now have the option of cloning that animal," said Hawthorne.

Bioarts cloning guarantees the health and treatment of the dogs, a resemblance and security of the dog owner's money. Now, here is the cloning controversy in a nutshell. For animal lovers like Tom Gregory, that guarantee is enough; for animal lovers like Neil Trent, it's not even close.

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