For dog owners who wish their beloved pet could live forever, the ability to clone their pet may seem like a dream come true. But the procedure can cost up to $50,000 without a guarantee that a cloned dog will behave or even look identical to the original. The process also presents many ethical concerns.
“The main ethical concern about cloning a pet is that doing so doesn’t actually provide any medical benefit to the health of a pet or to people,” says Dr. Robert Klitzman, Academic Director of the Master of Science in Bioethics program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. Dog cloning has only a 20 percent success rate, which means it’s likely there will be multiple surgeries to collect egg cells and to implant a cloned embryo. Such operations should be done only if they will benefit an animal’s health or advance medical and scientific research, says Dr. Klitzman.
“We are subjecting animals to harm when there is a nonessential benefit,” he says. “And that is ethically problematic.” Currently there are about 8 million animals in the U.S. waiting for adoption, and Dr. Klizman believes it would be more worthwhile to adopt shelter dogs who need a home.