Cloned dog opens dangerous door

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I was kind of appalled to read on Tuesday about the first “commercially cloned puppies.”

An American woman whose beloved pet pit bull died apparently paid a South Korean company $50,000 to clone the animal, resulting in the five cloned puppies.

I mean, to each their own, but to me that’s rather disturbing.

Sure, the idea of being able to “bring back a lost pet” is comforting in a sense, except that the thought process behind such rationale is incorrect n i.e., it’s not the same animal.

It’s genetically identical, true, but then so are identical twins and I’ve met pairs of those who couldn’t be more different personality-wise.

This sweet, loving dog that Bernann McKinney remembers having n one who saved her life and was so intelligent and responsive n won’t necessarily share those traits with its five clones.

For all anyone knows, these five puppies could turn out to be the most vicious animals ever… or they could be even smarter and more loving than the original.

Who knows?

And that’s exactly the point… no one does.

However, I suppose the cloned puppies themselves aren’t what concerns me, but rather the path this whole cloning thing has taken.

Twelve years ago, we welcomed the first animal cloned from an adult cell into the world n Dolly, a sheep.

Members of the public who protested such an action were told, “It’s only a sheep, no big deal.”

Now, not that far removed from the Dolly experience, we’re cloning dogs n domesticated creatures n and it’s become a commercial venture.

That’s scary.

What’s next, cloned people?

I can see it now… someone’s beloved Great Aunt Sally dies and her distraught family members decide to bring her “back to life” n through cloning.

Except it’s not Great Aunt Sally… it’s a separate person who is genetically identical.

Or, worse n and far more likely n a person’s young child dies and they attempt to replace their lost loved one through cloning.

There was a movie made about that one a few years back, actually… “Godsend,” in 2004.

In that film, a couple lost their 8-year-old boy and had him cloned through a secret facility.

Everything was fine until after the cloned child passed the age where the original had died and then he started becoming violent and trying to kill people.

Yes, I’m aware that it’s only Hollywood fiction and that scenario is implausible, but it does bring up a valid point: you don’t know what kind of personality you’re getting when you clone someone.

Hitler cloned might turn out to be a pretty swell guy, given the right upbringing and life experiences.

Albert Einstein cloned might be a serial killer; you never can tell.

That’s why cloning is so dangerous, because with every step that is taken we are getting closer and closer to that last, final, dangerous goal of cloning humans.

Once that is done n and it likely will be at some point in the future n there is no telling what might happen.

I for one don’t want to see the results of such a world.

Jennipher Dickens is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. She can be reached at 252-332-7208 or