FrankenPet

1 min
at 10:43 PM
 (Richard Swerdlow)

Cloning a beloved pet is becoming popular among the wealthy, but Richard Swerdlow isn’t sold on the expensive procedure.

Last month, the former president of Iceland and his wife welcomed a new addition to their family - an Icelandic sheepdog puppy. But this cute baby dog he wasn't exactly new. He was a clone, an exact replica of their previous Icelandic sheepdog, who had died and been custom cloned by Texas-based company The Icelandic first family are not the only rich and powerful people jumping on the biotechnology bandwagon of pet cloning. Last year, Barbra Streisand cloned her coton dog, Samantha, creating four exact replica puppies. And in 2016, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg had Shannon, her Jack Russell terrier, cloned into two identical puppies.

Immorality for Fido or Fluffy -- yes, cats are cloned, too -- does not come cheap, costing upwards of $50,000. But it can be purchased from a handful of companies. If the cloning process works (there's a high failure rate), your companion clone will join several hundred cloned pets already living around the world.

Still considering Rover 2.0? Although the cloned pet is genetically identical to the animal from which the cells are taken, the new pet is not guaranteed to have exactly the same appearance. Pet personalities are influenced by environment, so even if your collie's clone looks the same, he won't have the same personality or memories. Despite this, pet cloning has become so routine, it was even a topic at the Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference last year, discussing cloning valuable police dogs.

I get how Barbra was all verklempt at the passing of her pooch. My cat died a decade ago, and I still miss her. But she lived the usual 9 lives. Grieving for a lost loved one - pet or person - is a painful, but unavoidable, part of life. Even more chilling, if we can clone cats, is cloning people far behind? Will the one percent start purchasing perpetuity?

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PETA - People for Ethical Treatment of Animals - is against pet cloning, pointing out funds spent to clone a single pet could take care of hundreds of needy shelter animals.

So, though I love cats and dogs, I'm finding this FrankenPet trend a little unnerving. What's more, it is possible to clone the clone, giving a whole new meaning to best friends forever.

Barbra Streisand may be proud dog mom to 4 cloned puppies, but maybe she should remember the message of her 70's disco hit: "Enough is Enough."

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.

Richard Swerdlow teaches in the San Francisco Unified School District.