WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A company can preserve your pet’s cells and clone them.
- Some social media influencers are patronizing the procedure.
- PETA has issued a statement condemning the practice.
For social media influencers, cloning pets is the newest craze.
Courtney Udvar-Hazy, who has a famous social media account devoted to her dog Willow, previously told TODAY about cloning her dog after it died four years ago. She informed the newspaper that she made six clones of Willow using ViaGen Pets & Equine, a company that preserves your pet’s cells and then clones them.
“Willow was just insanely special. She was my soul dog. I wanted her bloodline and her legacy to continue,” Udvar-Hazy told TODAY. “I went into it with zero expectation. I knew that it would be similar to identical twins in humans. Completely different animal, completely different soul, completely different personality, but genetically identical.”
Udvar-Hazy, who makes money from her social media, has kept the account with Willow’s clones up to date since the cloning procedure. According to TODAY, influencer Kelly Anderson cloned her cat Chai after it died at a young age and now manages her monetized Instagram account with the animal’s clone.
ViaGen, based in Texas, charges $50,000 to clone a dog, $35,000 to clone a cat, and $85,000 to clone a horse. More influencers are expected to become clients, and ViaGen hopes that their prices will soon be affordable to regular pet owners.
“There are a handful of our clients that have a social media presence,” Melain Rodriguez, ViaGen’s client service manager, told TODAY. “That’s definitely going to grow.”
Besides social media influencers, other celebrities have also cloned their pets.
In February 2018, Barbra Streisand revealed that she had cells extracted from her dog Samantha, who passed in 2017, to create clones of the canine. The singer posted a photo of her two cloned pups, Scarlet and Violet, sitting close to Samantha’s grave a year later. Samantha’s breeder gave Streisand her second dog, Fanny.
“The twins Scarlet and Violet honoring their mom (with cousin Fanny in the center!),” the caption read.
Following Streisand’s revelation that Scarlet and Violet are clones, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk issued a statement to Page Six opposing individuals from cloning animals, stating that “cloning adds to the homeless-animal population crisis” because other animals remain in shelters.
In a statement, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also condemned the practice, citing “important welfare concerns.” The group also stated that a “scientific and ethical analysis of the procedures and practices” of cloning is needed.