Do you love your dog so much you wish you had a second one just like him?
Well, a Lafayette, Louisiana, veterinarian and his wife shared so many wonderful memories with their dog Melvin they decided that before he died, they’d clone him.
Not just once… but twice. And you can, too, for a mere $100,000.
Dr. Phillip Dupont and his wife Paula are the proud owners of Ken and Henry – almost identical “replicas” of their former dog. They recently sat down with NPR to share their story and explain why money was no object when it came to keeping Melvin’s legacy alive.
“He listened,” Phillip Dupont said of Melvin. “You could talk to him, and you swore he understood what you were talking about. It was weird.”
As Melvin aged, the couple wanted to keep a part of their dog with them. So they turned to a South Korean lab that specializes in this process. They told NPR that they’d already spent as much on a Humvee, “So, what the heck?” Phillip Dupont said.
After sending some of Melvin’s skin cells to the lab, a puppy was “born,” but soon died from distemper. The lab tried again and reportedly produced two healthy clones — Ken and Henry. The two pups are said to be genetically identical, though not exact replicas. They were created when “scientists injected one of Melvin’s skin cells, which contained all of his DNA, into a donor egg that had been emptied of its original DNA,” reports NPR.
Ken and Henry reportedly are two of only about 600 dogs that have been cloned since scientists at Seoul’s Sooam Biotech developed the technology to create cloned canines.
Insoo Hyun, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, told NPR that in cloning, a lot of dogs are used to serve as egg donors and surrogates — this means the animals are undergoing surgical procedures, sometimes more than once to produce a single clone.
“I think there are probably better ways to spend $100,000 if you really care about animals,” Hyun said.
The Duponts, however, told NPR that Ken and Henry’s presence has helped them deal with the grief of losing Melvin, and they don’t feel bad about spending so much money to create cloned dogs when so many other dogs need homes, either. Paula Dupont said that families who clone their pets don’t do it “with the idea of producing 10 more.”
“We’re looking at having the one special dog again,” she told the news organization.
Or maybe three — Ken and Henry may soon be joined by another Melvin clone for the couple’s grandson.