BOSTON (CBS) — This goes well beyond just keeping the memory of our dogs and cats alive. Some pet owners are now cloning their four-legged family members.
Yes, this is possible and it’s not cheap. Some people are spending well over the cost of a new car to keep their pet in the family. Pets like Baxter. He’s a 9-month toy poodle. He’s also a clone.
“People have a hard time wrapping their brain around it. This is real technology. It’s not science fiction. It’s not like what you see on TV or anything or in the movies,” explained Melain Rodriguez.
Rodriguez works for ViaGen. The company has been successfully cloning livestock for more than 15 years. Now, they’re cloning dogs and cats too.
“The dog that you’re going to clone is not going to be a Frankenstein, it’s just a normal dog like any other dog. You’d never know by looking at him that he’s a cloned puppy.”
Cloning starts when your veterinarian takes four small skin samples from your pet. It’s a simple procedure and most pets go home the same day. Those samples are sent off to the ViaGen lab in Texas.
“From that little skin sample, we culture millions of cells and these contain the pet’s complete DNA. And that is all that we need for cloning.”
ViaGen then chooses a surrogate approximately the same size as your pet. That surrogate will have a normal gestation and the puppy that is born will be a genetic twin to the original pet.
As you might imagine it’s not cheap. “The cloning fee is $50,000 to clone a dog. There is a lot of interest, we do have a waiting list.”
Even dogs who are sick or have cancer can be cloned. “It’s not that same pet born over again but it’s the same genetics. This piece of this pet they love so much is back in their life again.”
ViaGen says many of their cloned dogs are mixed breed rescues. The kind you’d never be able to replicate — until now.