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Controversy for Couple That Cloned Family Dog

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2009 at 2:28 am

page3dogIt has always been a normal process to mourn the passing of a beloved pet, especially when a family considers them as more than animals, even worthy of having a seat at the dinner table or sleeping alongside them in bed. Yet the Otto family has taken it one step further. When Edgar Otto and his wife, Nina, who live on a 12-acre estate located in western Boca Raton, Florida, first heard news that their yellow lab, named Lancelot, had cancer, their preparations for his death were a little different. Edgar and Nina now own and love the first single-birth, commercially-cloned puppy currently in the United States.

Edgar and Nina Otto, who have nine other dogs, 10 cats, six sheep and four parrots, had his DNA frozen five years ago immediately after hearing of his cancer, guessing that pet cloning would one day be possible. After Lancelot’s death at age eleven, the couple found a California based company which claimed they could take the frozen DNA and produce a clone of their beloved late Lancelot. The dog was genetically engineered in South Korea at BioArts International, as part of the company’s Best Friends Again division, a company that advocates for the cloning of beloved deceased pets. BioArts took the DNA from Lancelot and inserted it into the egg of a Korean dog similar to the breed. The company then inseminated another Korean dog with the fertilized egg.

And how much exactly did it cost to bring back the dead? All of this was done for a fee of $155,000, paid at a San Francisco biotech firm’s dog-cloning auction last July. The Otto family believes the rebirth of their beloved family member was worth all the money in the world.

Yet, Edgar explained that the family is hardly hurting from the huge bill. His father cofounded NASCAR, “so I won that lottery,” he says. On top of that, Edgar himself started a successful medical company. All money aside, BioArts International created Lancelot Encore in South Korea, where he was born about ten weeks ago. Not so cleverly named “Lancelot Encore”, the newborn clone was flown first class into the Miami International Airport. According to these proud new parents, Lancelot Encore looks just like their former pet, and it is the couple’s hope that the dog will have the same personality and intelligence of their first dog, that they loved so much. The cloned puppy was completely healthy at birth and is apparently expected to live a long and happy life.

However, cloned animals or people are not the real thing, no matter how much they look like the source material, and nothing could replace the original. The Otto couple’s feelings aside, there are many that think spending so much money on cloning a pet when there are rescues and kennels and shelters overflowing with unwanted animals is wasteful. Even President Obama plans to rescue a dog from a shelter, rather than buying a purebred from an expensive breeder. Yet, the couple claims to have donated more than the sum paid to clone Lancelot Encore to the Humane Society. Interestingly enough, according to CNN, it is the exact same Humane Society that speaks against the cloning of animals. The Ottos also promise that if they ever decide to bring their eleventh dog home, it will come from a shelter.

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