Texas: When a Toronto-based professional named Bonnie Tam saw her beloved pet Samoyed dog Menley grow old, she understood that the eventual loss will be heartbreaking. Thus, she started scrutinizing the idea of cloning when Menley turned 12 years old. She eventually found ViaGen Pets, a Texas-based company. She soon reached out to the company and bought the genetic preservation kit back in 2017 to act as an insurance policy.
Tam accelerated the cloning process after Menley died at 16. A new puppy was born two months later using the same DNA as Menley. Tam also mentioned that the clone animal had many of Menley’s qualities and traits.
ViaGen Pets helped Tam get her Menley back. It closed her pet from a tissue sample generated by utilizing a conventional skin biopsy. The company’s laboratories are situated in Austin, Texas. The cloning process for dogs costs around $50,000 on average, which is not very cost effective by any standard. The company is also providing customers an option to send the tissue samples directly to the firm for storage and culturing. This particular process costs less than $2,000.
Initiating the cloning process is a challenge apart from the price. The tissue sample collection part initially needs a skin biopsy on the selected animal while it is still alive. It is not always possible as several veterinarians object to the biopsy. Client service manager of ViaGen Pets Melain Rodriguez stated that biopsy is against the ethics of some people as it is not considered to be beneficial for the pet animal. Veterinarians in the United Kingdom often hesitate to collect samples when their pets are still alive
Therefore, a crucial alternative is that the customer should collect the sample as soon as their pet dies. Then, the sample should be taken to the company’s laboratory for further processing. The cold chain will have to be maintained amid transportation so that the collected sample remains alive.
As per Rodriguez, the company takes about three to four days to receive international samples and it needs the cells to be alive when these reach its laboratory. Thus, its clients are suggested to collect the samples when their pets are alive to prevent such incidents. Once the samples are received by the company, they are kept in a culture where they are grown into few million cells. This process usually takes about two to three weeks.
Moreover, these cells are frozen by keeping in a cryoprotectant. The frozen cells are utilized to develop an embryo when the pet parent decides to clone their animals. The egg is then taken from a donor animal and it’s nucleus is replaced and removed with one of the million cultured cells taken from the sample. The embryo is then enabled to grow in a fish after the early process before it is put to the surrogate mother. This process is very similar to in-vitro fertilization.
The company takes special consideration in case of pet dogs to ensure that the surrogate mother is a breed similar to the donor. The surrogate mother then gives birth to the clone pet. The company focuses more on the needs of its clients and make them understand that the clone animal is not the same as the pet that expired.
The company also ensures that its clients know what they are getting into before purchasing a unique kit. It sheds light on the fact that this process is not the reincarnation of their dead pet animal. As the environmental component matters, the cloned animal may behave completely differently than the dead animal.