- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2002

ATLANTA — Kendra DeFord loves her sweet Pomeranian so much that she wants to keep her forever.
She already has planned to mummify Sassy Frassy Tee when she dies.
Now, with the arrival of CC, the cloned kitten whose existence was announced last month, Miss DeFord is hopeful a clone of Sassy can be produced before her 12-year-old pooch passes away.
"I'd like the clone to have a chance to get to know Sassy, to maybe pick up some of her traits and little tricks," the Atlanta resident said.
But producing a clone might not mean creating an identical copy of a pet. Not all clones even look the same. CC short for "Carbon Copy" cat has tabby markings, while the original cat, Rainbow, is a calico. Researchers aren't sure how much of a pet's personality will be replicated.
Lou Hawthorne, chief executive officer of Genetic Savings & Clone, the company that has cloned CC, says considerable data suggest that intelligence and temperament have a genetic basis.
"You're going to see that clones don't have the knowledge of the genetic donor, they don't have anything that was contributed by experience, but they have certain behavioral tendencies in common with the donor," he said.
CC, who is the clone of a lab cat, won't help to clarify the mystery because no one knows the original cat well. Mr. Hawthorne said the next cats they clone will be pets, so they can answer some of those questions.
If scientists discover that some personality is inherited, says Jeanne Dillon of Lawrenceville, Ga., she will consider cloning her dog, Paddy. Miss Dillon has two Shetland sheepdogs, and while she loves them both, she can't bear the thought of parting with Paddy, who has undergone surgery at Auburn University for a cancerous brain tumor.
"He's just the most loving, special dog, with all kinds of cute little personality quirks," Miss Dillon said. "If the clone would have the same personality, or even be susceptible to it, then it would be worth it. But if it's just going to be another Sheltie, then I'll just buy another Sheltie for a lot less money."
Cloning won't come cheap. Banking a pet's genetic material is $895 for a healthy pet or $1,395 for a dying or dead pet. The company sends the applicant a kit, which then can be taken to a veterinarian to have the sample removed. But not all veterinarians are willing to perform the procedure. Mr. Hawthorne said his company hopes to get the cost of cloning a dog or cat to less than $10,000, but initially it could cost tens of thousands more.
The idea of pet cloning has brought criticism from the American Humane Association and others. Millions of healthy dogs and cats are killed yearly because there aren't enough homes.
Amy Ridings of the AHA said the organization objects to cloning because it is unsafe and creates enormous suffering. The successful cloning of CC took 87 embryos and eight surrogate mothers, officials said. Mr. Hawthorne says some animals will be born with abnormalities as researchers perfect the cloning process.
"To go through that many animals to get one pet is not, to us, humane," Miss Ridings said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide