Kelly Anderson’s cat, Chai, died suddenly in March 2017 at the age of five. He swallowed a piece of wrapper, and when it got stuck in his intestines, he was rushed to emergency surgery. He could not be saved due to the development of a blood clot after the operation.
Sharing her life with her cat, who she describes as her “soul mate”, Kelly describes the pain she felt when she lost her in these words:
“I can’t remember crying so hard and sobbing in my life. It was a very early and unexpected farewell. A piece of my heart literally broke that day. After losing her, I came home with an empty carrying case and a broken heart.
Kelly felt very helpless at that time. He couldn’t do anything, or so he thought…
As she tried to process the fact that she had lost Chai, she suddenly recalled a conversation with her friend a few weeks ago about Texas-based ViaGen Pets, one of the few companies in the world cloning pets.
“It definitely wasn’t the healthiest way to deal with my grief, but the idea kept me going,” said Kelly, who had a rough morning and immediately called the company.
The next morning, the vet took skin cells from Chai’s body via biopsy and Kelly sent them to the cloning lab.
Belle (left) and Chai (right)
HE DID FOUR YEARS, PAID 25 THOUSAND DOLLARS
The process seemed a bit tricky as Chai’s lifeless body froze overnight. The laboratory was able to collect 6 million cells. This was the beginning of Belle’s life…
The cloning process began in October 2017, seven months after Chai’s death.
Kelly Anderson, 32, says it took four years to clone her cat and now has a new pet named Belle, who carries the same DNA as Chai.
“I lost him very young. So when he died I remembered the conversation I had with my friend about cloning and took action,” Kelly said, spending $25,000 for cloning.
HE IS A CLONE BUT DEFINITELY A DIFFERENT LIFE
The Belle clone cat is almost identical to Chai, with dark blue eyes and fluffy white fur. Belle, like Chai, likes to sleep with her body on Kelly’s back. On top of that, Belle shares many personality traits with Chai, including playing with people, licking people, being motivated by food, and being fascinated by water.
But the similarities of the two cats end there.
Because the clones are not the same animal, even though they carry the same genetic material. After all, they don’t carry the memories and experiences that made this animal a treasured friend.
It’s actually a bit like resetting the phone; Although the model and technology are the same, all data is deleted.
Reuniting with her cloned cat, Belle, four years after losing Chai, Kelly said: “It was definitely worth the wait. “When I first met him, I held him in my arms and he fell asleep right away,” she says.
HOW DOES THE CLONING PROCESS WORK?
CheMyong Jay Ko, a professor at the University of Illinois, says the cloning process is relatively simple.
— A few cells are taken from the animal’s tissues, usually from the ear or abdomen.
— The cells are placed in the laboratory in a mixture of enzymes to then extract the DNA.
— Scientists then take an unfertilized egg from another donor animal.
— The nucleus of this egg is removed with a very small needle and replaced by the nuclei of the cells of the animal to be cloned.
— The new egg carrying the animal’s DNA is placed in a nutrient mixture, usually in a uterus, and grown until it becomes the embryo to be implanted in a surrogate mother.
— If all goes well, a clone is born at the end of the surrogate mother’s pregnancy.
The first cloning in the world was carried out in 1996 with “Dolly the sheep”. The cloning controversy has been going on ever since. Experts say scientific advances have allowed the practice to become more commercial, but the procedure itself raises ethical dilemmas.
The biggest problem with cloning is that it does not have a 100% success rate. Not all pregnancies are fertile or not all embryos survive. This means that multiple carrier animals and egg donors can be used in the process.
CheMyong Jay Ko explains that since cloning is not a natural process, embryos can have abnormalities that can lead to miscarriage or death.
“WE HAVE AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPECTATION ON THE NEW ANIMAL”
Robert Klitzman, director of the bioethics graduate program at Columbia University, said people have a “pure” idea that they will be the same as the clone’s deceased animals and have the same emotional relationship with them. . or I can adopt an animal living in difficult conditions in a shelter. These are things that also need to be considered from an ethical point of view,” he says.
While Klitzman acknowledges that the loss of a pet is quite devastating, he says cloning “may not allow someone to experience grief and then develop a relationship with another being.”
“Thinking of the clone as a kind of replacement, i.e. trying to replace the deceased, creates an unfair expectation of the new animal.”
Anderson, who has five dogs, shares that Bell’s best friend is also Chai’s.
“I CLONE BECAUSE I WANTED TO WEAR SOME OF IT”
However, Kelly Anderson points out that she didn’t expect Belle to be the ‘Second Chai’ and said: “I’ve always told people that I cloned my cat not to bring it back to life. , but because I wanted to wear some of it. Even though the cats are different, Belle is still a part of Chai. “Having it is comforting in a way that I really don’t know how to explain,” she says.
Somehow Belle is enjoying the life that Chai never had. Because Chai could never enjoy being a kitten because he suffered from many illnesses early in his life. The first five months of the beautiful cat’s life were spent getting groomed instead of playing and socializing.
THE OTHER REASON IS THE ADDICTION WHICH EVEN WELL TO HIS DEPRESSION.
What prompted Kelly to clone was that Chai’s difficult life was cut short and tests showed that none of his illnesses were genetic.
“It’s actually kind of about giving him a second chance,” Kelly says. Another reason is that Chai was a source of hope and a deep connection to him as he struggled with depression.
Kelly said: “Today I can say that with the birth of Belle, a big part of my heart has been repaired. I think it’s important to help people learn more about cloning, what the process entails and the impact it has on my life.” My goal is for my story to give hope and information to those who are curious and open-minded about pet cloning .”
Kelly Anderson and Belle
THE COST IS HIGH, PEOPLE SELL THEIR VALUABLE ITEMS FOR CLONING
This same dedication has encouraged many people, including American singer Barbra Streisand, to clone their pets. There are even those who resort to methods such as selling their vehicles or valuables due to the high cost of the cloning process.
ViaGen Pets clones dogs for $50,000 and cats for $35,000. For those who are still undecided, the company offers to store and preserve the animal’s cells for $1600, which is included in the total cloning cost.
Via Gen was founded in 2002. They started preserving and preserving animal DNA that year, but only started cloning dogs and cats in 2015.
According to Melain Rodriguez, the company’s customer service manager, about 10% of customers who have their animal’s DNA preserved end up starting the cloning process. The remaining 90%, which protect cells, remains undecided. On the other hand, there is no “expiration date” for the cells.
“We even have customers who have stored their animal’s cells for 17 years and have now cloned them,” Rodriguez said. Imagine you have a new dog that comes from the DNA of your dog that lived 25 years ago. It’s something really amazing.
The company won’t reveal how many clones it has made so far, but Rodriguez says “hundreds” and claims the process will become more popular over the years.