Dog, Inc. by John Woestendiek is a metaphor for human cloning. Dog cloning is a reality and no longer fiction! For a hefty price, you can have a replica of your canine and contribute to a science with questionable ethics. Dog Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend takes us behind the scenes of animal cloning, an untold phenomenon that aids a dog lover in bypassing grief and keeping their perfect pet.
Woestendiek is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter and author of the “Ohmidog!” blog. While writing for the Baltimore Sun, Woestendiek heard about dog cloning after Snuppy was created. His curiosity grew about canine cloning and Dog, Inc. was written.
How was dog cloning born? Many players were involved in the race to clone a dog after the birth of Dolly, who was the first animal cloned. After John Sperling, the billionaire, heard about Dolly, he wanted to clone a dog, Missy. Joan Hawthorne, Spearling’s long time love, was the owner of Missy and Spearling wanted to give the pup back to Hawthorne after the dog died. With the help of Sperling’s money, scientists at Texas A & M embarked on creating the first canine clone dubbed the Missyplicity Project. Joan Hawthorne’s son, Lou, oversaw Missyplicity.
Scientists involved in successfully cloning a dog were Dr. Hwang and Dr. Lee. The dogs involved in the canine cloning race were Traker, Booger, Missy and Snuppy (who ended up being the first puppy clone). Woestendiek explains the background of Sperling, the Hawthornes, the scientists and the canine owners unwilling to accept the finality of their pet’s death. As we learn about dog cloning, Woestendiek intertwines the drama in these peoples’ lives with the race between Korea and America to clone the first canine.
As we read Dog, Inc., we learn about the Brahman bull that was cloned, the cloning of cats before dogs, the strange Rael world of Claude Vorilhon (who was abducted by aliens and educated about cloning-really it’s in the book), the evolution between the human and canine relationship and the different ways people have held onto their perfect pet.
Chance, the Brahman bull, was the last of his kind. Ralph Fisher, Chance’s owner, wanted to clone his bull to keep his business going and to hold on to his beloved pet. Second Chance was born and looked just like his predecessor, but not without some glitches.
Cats were brought into the cloning race when it was discovered they were much easier to clone than dogs. After Hawthorne realized cats were just as beloved as their canine counterpart, the potential to make as much money from cat cloning spurred a feline copy cat business (No pun intended). Despite the cash flow that cat cloning could earn, the plan to clone a dog was still the goal for many and eventually sparked the interest of the Koreans.
Woestendiek talks about the evolution of canines from warriors, who fought in battles beside man to working animals. Today, dogs are beloved pets being pushed around in strollers and dressed up like they are human children. The evolution of dogs becoming such valued family members spurred to life cons and businesses, who wanted to be a part of the billion dollar pet industry.
Due to this evolution between man and dog, humans have found ways to hold on to their perfect pet. Taxidermy, deep freezing, mummification and pet memorials (Yes, they really exist) gave people the ability to hold on to their canine companions long after the pup was gone. However, these options did not stop the growing popularity to clone a dog. Woestendiek discusses how pet cloning gives some people the hope of having their pet back, a resurrection of sort of their canine. But in reality, cloning cannot guarantee that it will be the same exact replica of your dog.
On April 24th, 2004, Snuppy was born in Korea! The cloning of Snuppy took eggs from 115 dogs, which were implanted into 120 dogs that ultimately failed to produce a pup. Another three dogs were implanted and successfully produced one surviving pup known as Snuppy.
Korea cloned the first dog and is the only country offering animal cloning at this time, because of the abundance of dogs readily available and the lack of animal rights organizations. Reading about the “unethical” practices of Korea and the way dogs are perceived in this country, it makes me wonder how any dog lover could consider buying a clone of their beloved pet. Dogs are still part of the human food chain in Korea where they raise dogs like we raise cattle. These “dog” farms give Korea the ability to offer “cheaper” dog cloning than former American cloning businesses. The cost of cloning is comparable to the price of a new vehicle, which is down from the originating higher price of $250,000. Now, a grieving pet owner can have their furry companion cloned for $50,000 and in the near future as low as $30,000.
If you are thinking about cloning your dog, do all your research about cloning and don’t let your emotions make decisions for you. Before spending all that hard earned cash, it would be wise to read Woestendiek’s book, Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend. After reading the book, you can decide if science is interfering with the cycle of life and death, if animal cloning is delaying or eliminating this final act of nature, or if cloning is extending the grief process by having to experience losing your beloved pet over and over again.
You should, also, read Dog, Inc if you are interested in science ethics. With the advance in science and the success of cloning animals, will humans be next? If people are rationalizing dog cloning is okay, because their pet is special. How will people determine what makes one human over another better to clone? Is dog cloning our gateway into creating a superior human race? Has dog cloning opened a Pandora’s box where more harm than good could be done to mankind and has sparked Korea, a country with no ethical restrictions, to pursue stem-cell research and human cloning.
After reading Dog, Inc, ask yourself is replicating your dog the best decision or would it be better to save one of the millions of canines in your local animal shelter.