Home > Animal Rescue, Pet Adoption, Pet News > Dog Cloning: Surrogate Mom to Dog Meat?

Dog Cloning: Surrogate Mom to Dog Meat?


I saw this story on Nightline Friday night and couldn’t help but shake my head. There’s so much about it I found disturbing.

My brief summary of the story?

Woman buys puppy from pet store.
Woman raises puppy and loves puppy.
Puppy dies at 18 years of age.
Woman clones puppy.
Woman has new puppy that looks like old puppy.

It sounds innocuous enough doesn’t it? Well, except for the part where she buys the puppy mill puppy from a pet store, but otherwise just another news story about the advancement of science and how it is impacting our lives. Right?

Before seeing this story, I knew so little about people cloning their pets. I mean, I had heard about Dolly the sheep and more recently, about the four Beagles that were cloned so they could glow in the dark.

But, I didn’t know how many dogs had already been cloned for people (to replace their deceased pets) or were being used as sniffer dogs in South Korean airports. The scientist who cloned the first dog, Lee Byeon Chun, “says he’s cloned 35 dogs — and five wolves — in the past four years”, and that’s just one scientist in one lab.

I also didn’t know that…

Dog cloning is done almost exclusively in South Korea – In fact, dog cloning is becoming a new and somewhat profitable industry in South Korea as this story in Time Magazine demonstrates.

People pay an exorbitant amount of money to get their dogs cloned – Between $100,000 – $155,000, although recently a Staffordshire Bulldog was cloned for someone in Florida for $55,000, and prices are expected to go down thus making cloning your pet that much more affordable.

The surrogate mothers often come from the same farms where they raise dogs for their meat and are often returned to these same farms to be killed and eaten by someone in South Korea – Author, John Woestendiek, details much of the pet cloning industry in his book, “Dog, Inc.”, including how surrogate mothers are obtained and then returned to these farms.

The woman featured in the Nightline story said she inquired about what would happen to the surrogate dog after her puppy was born. She said that she was reassured that the dog would be sent to a “nice farm” to live out the rest of her days. Sound familiar? Pet stores (that sell puppies) also reassure their customers that the puppy they are buying came from a responsible breeder. Should we believe them as well?

I can’t help but wonder, why someone would choose to clone a pet when 3-5 million pets are killed each year in shelters across this country? And, why would someone choose to clone a pet knowing the surrogate mother is likely sent back to a South Korean farm to be harvested as meat on someone’s plate?

How willing are we to look past the lies we are told to get what we want when we want it? And, how many pets must die before we stop adding to the problem?

You can watch more about the woman featured in the Nightline story, and others who have cloned their pets, on the show “I Cloned My Pet” on TLC January 11th at 9 PM EST.

Additional resources:
Beloved Pets Everlasting?, The New York Times
Cloning Fact Sheet
Cloning Fido: South Korea’s Dog Cloning Industry Raises Ethical Red Flags
Cloned Pets: Looks Can Be Deceiving, ABC News
South Korea’s Pet Clone Wars, Time Magazine

  1. January 8, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    I saw the ad for this show the other day and just shuddered. Seriously? I can’t imagine ever even CONSIDERING cloning one of my dogs. I love the. I cherish them. I will be LOST when I lose them, but to try and replace them? Oh, Look it’s KolchakV2.0? Nope. Way too creepy for me. And I had NO IDEA about the questionable practices side of the story. Awful.

    • Mel
      January 8, 2012 at 9:48 PM

      Jodi – You echo my thoughts exactly. I cannot imagine cloning my pet. It creeps me out too, especially now that I know where and how it is done.

  2. January 8, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    Wow. I had no idea this was so widespread.

    I don’t really understand the appeal – even if I was able to get a dog with the exact same genetic makeup as Bella, that dog would never actually BE Bella. I find the whole idea really creepy. The additional issue that the surrogate mother – who could also use a home – will end up as food is extremely disturbing.

    • I heart dogs
      June 19, 2013 at 2:08 PM

      For anyone to believe that all the surrogates end up as someone’s meal is ignorance.

  3. January 8, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    I don’t foresee us ever having enough money to be able to afford cloning a pet. And right now, I can say that I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s like something from a science fiction movie gone wrong.

    However, I remember how I felt when my first heart dog died. If I’d won the lottery right then, I felt enough grief that I’d have been willing to have her cloned. I guess my point is just that this is a business built on people’s emotions. When people are heartsick after a painful loss, they’re more willing to be sucked in to these kinds of things. That doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do, or even that they won’t regret the decision later, but I couldn’t judge them too harshly. There are going to be a lot of ethics decisions that our society will have to make regarding cloning as our technology advances.

  4. Jen
    January 8, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    I watched the same story! It made me just shake my head. IMO it’s unethical, it’s not the way things are suppose to go. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love my dogs but I love them because they are unique and different from any other dog out there. I don’t want the same dog over and over again.

  5. January 8, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    My reaction to cloning dogs was a visceral one – just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. While it’s great that from that perhaps kidneys, livers, and other transplantable organs can be grown, what’s not great is what a weird way of thinking this is. You’re not getting a copy of who your dog was, you’re getting a genetic copy that has little to do with personality. I knew South Korea had cornered this market and I thought – they clone them and they eat them? Gross! I don’t watch Nightline much anymore, so thanks for the update on all this:)

  6. January 9, 2012 at 6:33 AM

    I agree with Mary. Just because we have the technology to do something doesn’t mean we should. To me, this feels like just a step away from cloning people. Lose a child to accident or illness? No problem – we can replace them! Then there’s the issue of what happens to the surrogate mom. And the issue of millions of homeless dogs being euthanized each year. No – it just feels wrong to me.

  7. January 9, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    Just one word: Ick.

  8. January 9, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    My wife was just saying the other day she wished we could clone our Lab. She’s a near perfect dog and will be difficult to replace were something to happen for her.

    I say that would be taking some of the adventure out of life. I’d rather adopt a new dog and roll the dice.

  9. January 9, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Cloning of any kind makes me really nervous. While I do think science had a need to see if it would be possible, those questions have been answered. We humans have caused a lot of damage due to curiosity. Once we have the answers we are looking for, I don’t see the need to push it further. To what end? By doing things like this we are ultimately only hurting ourselves. I hope the majority of the world will have the foresight to see that before it’s too late. Scarry stuff.

  10. January 9, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    I believe cloning is wrong. God had not intended animalas to be exactly the same.
    Another point is that even if you clone your favorite pet, he or she would not be the same. The animal would experience different things at different times and would be treated different from the original. Therefore the animal would act different from the original too.
    Cloning is just not the right thing for us to fool, around with. We should leave that to Mother Nature and God.

  11. January 9, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Money. People will pay big bucks to have the same pet they have loved so much or whatever their reason are. I find it appalling. And more than unethical, it’s ungodly.

    I may not want my dogs to ever die, but I sure in the hell don’t want them clone.

  12. January 11, 2012 at 1:20 AM

    Why would I want to clone my Vizslas? They all look the same, anyways 😛 I find the concept of cloning an animal in the hopes that you will have the same dog again really creepy. I love my dogs, but do I really want Jersey & Dexter 2.0 hanging around the house? Not really.

    One issue that is not widely talked about is how quickly the cloned animals age. Apparently clones age at three times that rate that their cell donors do and scientists can’t figure out why.

    Oh and to answer your question about where I get my pictures – Hours and hours and more hours on Tumblr blogs, Flickr and other various websites. Sometimes I’ll surf for hours and not find a good picture, other times I’ll hit a bonanza and have enough pictures for a month! So now you know, it’s just a lot of grunt work.

    And Mexico was lovely! I posted about it awhile back, but you had more serious things on you mind, like finding Miss Lady. You can see it here

    http://www.doggiestylish.com/store/blog/2011/11/cancun-holiday-2011/

  13. January 11, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    I loved my dog just as much as this women did,but there are so many animals in need of rescue.She was not thinking about the poor dogs in those labs and being so helpless in the hand of those evil humans beings who keep them in cages and torture them for the sake of research,and then the dogs are beaten to death so they can be eaten,and then there’s the faux fur issue… this has to be stopped.I have had it with animal torture!!!!

  14. January 11, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    There are so many wonderful dogs out there in need of rescue…they are all great if given the chance. After my best friend of twelve years died I vowed never to go through that heart ache again. I now have three rescue dogs and they are all wonderful.My heart has plenty of love to go around and they have so much to give, I will never forget my beloved pets,but I think they all need to be loved.

    juanita stanley :
    I loved my dog just as much as this women did,but there are so many animals in need of rescue.She was not thinking about the poor dogs in those labs and being so helpless in the hand of those evil humans beings who keep them in cages and torture them for the sake of research,and then the dogs are beaten to death so they can be eaten,and then there’s the faux fur issue… this has to be stopped.I have had it with animal torture!!!!

  15. Collette
    January 11, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    Where can I adopt the surrogate moms before they go back to the “happy farm”? I feel so much love for my dog, but twice as much for animals in general. What a sad thing to do to animals.

  16. January 18, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Just because the dog is genetically the same doesn’t mean that it will be the same dog. Genes are only part of what makes us who we are. Our life experiences also shape who we are.

  17. Michelle
    January 21, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    i agree with all the above comment and now only get my pets from shelter or other rescue methods there is no difference between the animal that just dies and the new one you bring home.
    Michelle Landry
    louisiana

    • Mel
      January 22, 2012 at 6:27 PM

      Amen!

      • Paolo Castellano
        March 11, 2012 at 1:51 PM

        I guess nobody here can understand how the people who clone their dogs feel. It takes a different kind of persona and connection to want to do such a thing. When the pricing comes down, I will definitely clone my dog, I spent every day, all day long with her as she rode with me in the car on my sales job. she was better than any person and any woman, unconditional love and was just there for me every second we spent together. For the people who do not feel this way, there are fortunately legitimate, wonderful breeders and well as many, many animals in need of rescue. Everybody should be able to be free do do what they want and afford to do. I have a question, do the dogs surely get eaten and if so do only the cloning surrogates get eaten or would these dogs get eaten otherwise anyway? I only ask this because I have never heard of such a thing.

      • Mel
        March 11, 2012 at 2:44 PM

        You are absolutely right Pablo. It is a choice. I can understand your love for your dog. I feel the same about my three. The dogs do get eaten. It’s actually common practice in South Korea.

  18. Jennifer
    July 7, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    It is clear that all of you think that a dog is just a dog. Just go pick up any old dog from a shelter:? My Yorkie was not a dog, she was my baby and I loved her like one of my children. I lost a child in November and then my service dog was killed by a neighbor dog. If it makes me feel better to clone her, who are you to say anything? You don’t understand my loss and all of you are talking about something that you don’t understand.

  19. Tammy
    September 10, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    I’d like to throw my 2 cents in since everyone is against cloning. I have 2 dogs, a boxer for 10 years and a poodle I adopted 2 years ago. I absolutely love both to pieces and wish they could stay forever with me. I have done a little surfing about cloning for my boxer to see what it is all about. This wouldnt be to replace him, or to continue a relationship with HIM for years to come. I think it would be wonderful to have a piece of him with me close, and if the dog had similar traits that would be wonderful. I think my dog has amazing traits, personality, spirit and qualities that makes him such an amazing dog and why I love him so much. We have such a strong bond and to even to take a chance on having that again with another similar dog would be worth it. Yes I know that by adopting from a shelter you can get a wonderful dog also, I have one now, he’s a cutie and I love him. If I could have another boxer with no issues I would in a heartbeat. I know the difference between a pet and one that is your soul mate. I’m not nuts, dog crazy, I have a life, a family and all my teeth 😀 When it comes to my pooch I love him dearly and would like the opportunity to have another amazing dog like him. I’ve learned about what they do to the clone’s surrogate mothers and I’m against any form of animal cruelty, even if I had all the cash in the world I wouldn’t put another dog through that. So that’s an opinion from someone who would want another similar pup.

  20. I heart dogs
    June 19, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    WOW! I can’t believe the ignorance of this statement “…often returned to these same farms to be killed and eaten by someone in South Korea.” Is there proof of this or is someone just a stereotyping racist bigot? Making such statements is irresponsible and the people who believe it are really ignorant. I am Korean and I am a dog lover. No! I do not eat dogs nor have I ever! NOR, do I know any other Koreans that would even entertain the thought of eating dog meat. Why would they? Korea is a wealthy enough country where eating dogs for nutrition is absolutely unnecessary! It is not a third world country where people are starving for meat! When the people in a country are poor is when they start eating the stray animals that linger about their communities. Korea hasn’t been that poor in a long time and I’m sure they have plenty of strays about where they don’t have to buy meat from a science lab, should anyone ever get hunger pangs for dog meat. And NO they do not feed you dog or cat meat in Korean restaurants. That’s just complete and utter B.S. that some racist probably remarked on and then the ignorants took and ran with. I take this offense to this in a big way. I am concerned about what happens to the surrogate mothers, which is how I landed on this site. I strongly doubt that the animals are being sent to become someone’s meal. However, I do have strong feelings that these dogs do NOT end up living the rest of their lives in as humane conditions as the scientists in Korea would like us to believe. In my opinion, cloning pets should be banned, or at least, not even entertained by us, the pet lovers, until Korea’s scientists prove that these surrogates are treated humanely after birth.

    • Mel
      June 20, 2013 at 6:39 AM

      I didn’t write the piece, only reported on it, but I have to disagree with you on serving dog meat. One of my client’s daughters taught in Korea and watched as they shipped dogs in and housed them by the school building. She watched as the numbers dwindled throughout the week as the dogs were killed for that day’s meal.

      • I heart dogs
        June 21, 2013 at 6:16 AM

        It sounds like more hearsay, actually. Regardless, I don’t think it’s as common as people try to make it seem. Like I said, I know no Korean that eats dogs. Perhaps, It’s just in certain parts of the country, where conditions are very poor? I don’t really know. My best friend said she saw people eating a dog when she was younger, in Albuquerque. Does it mean that people from New Mexico eats dogs? No, I don’t think so.

  1. January 24, 2012 at 4:31 PM

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