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The RSPCA has slammed the practice of cloning dogs as pets as “abhorrent”.

An undisclosed number of UK vets have completed biopsies required by a US company to clone pets for UK owners.

ViaGen Pets in Texas delivered the first US-born cloned puppy in July 2016 and is offering its genetic preservation and cloning services to the UK.

The cloning process is initiated when a UK owner requests a tissue biopsy test kit from ViaGen Pets. This is passed on to his or her vet, who takes a sample from the donor animal and returns it to the company.

The cost of cloning via ViaGen Pets is US$50,000 (£38,000) for dogs and US$25,000 (£19,000) for cats.

Demand rise predicted

ViaGen Pets said “a number” of UK vets have already supplied biopsies and stated “the client’s veterinarian is an essential part of this process.”

Its president Blake Russell said the company has already genetically preserved almost 1,000 pets and there is a waiting list for the cloning procedure. The company predicts demand will increase as the word spreads.

Mr Russell said: “The potential to have an identical twin to something that was very important and special in your life is an unprecedented opportunity and has brought a lot of joy to pet owners.”

‘Abhorrent’

The cloning of companion animals is not recognised veterinary practice in the UK and, under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, is considered an experimental procedure which would need to be licensed by the Home Office. The RSPCA has described it as “abhorrent”, while the BVA is opposed to the commercialisation of the process.

An RSPCA spokesman said: “Cloning animals requires procedures that cause pain and distress, with extremely high failure and mortality rates.

“There is also a body of evidence that cloned animals frequently suffer physical ailments, such as tumours, pneumonia and abnormal growth patterns.

“Cloning dogs as pets is abhorrent to the RSPCA. We can’t believe any true dog lover would condone causing suffering to dogs and wasting their lives for such a trivial and selfish purpose – particularly when animal shelters worldwide have thousands of dogs that need loving homes.”

  • For more on this story, see the 15 August issue of Veterinary Times.

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3 Comments on "RSPCA slams animal cloning as UK pet biopsies confirmed"

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Adam
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Adam
9 months 9 days ago

I wasn’t aware that cloning is illegal in the UK. How did Dolly the sheep and all the other animals cloned in the UK come about if “The cloning of animals is illegal in the UK”? Is it only illegal when it’s commercial? Is there an exemption for research purposes?

Vet Times
Admin
9 months 7 days ago
To clarify, we spoke to the RCVS, which offered this response: “The cloning of companion animals is not recognised veterinary practice in the UK and, under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, is considered an experimental procedure which would need to be licensed by the Home Office. “Taking a biopsy from a live animal purely for the purpose of using the sample to create a clone – whether or not the animal is under anaesthesia – does not benefit the donor animal and is therefore not recognised veterinary practice compliant with our Code of Professional Conduct.” We have amended the… Read more »
Dee
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Dee
8 months 27 days ago
There may be a good reason to clone, eg maybe a mutation beneficial to dog metabolism could be multiplied by cloning to breed in to the wider population. Private individuals who can afford it may want a dog identical to the one they like best, not a totally different dog with behaviour problems dumped by a callous owner that is a financial drain on the RSPCA unless they kill it. RSPCA seem often to turn into a moral issue these situations that in theory might reduce the money they receive from the public, now they have declared their remit is… Read more »
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