Signs of the Apocalypse, Part 11: Couple pays $155,000 to clone dog

I am broadening SOTA to include any story that the FHA (Future Historians of America) might point to as emblematic of early 21st Century American decadence — assuming we don’t prevent catastrophic warming. I’m talking Last Days of Pompeii stuff.

Nina and Edgar Otto say their cloned puppy crosses his paws like the original dog did.When a couple with “nine other dogs, as well as cats, birds and sheep,” drops $150k to have a San Francisco biotech company create a facsimile of a beloved dead pet in South Korea, that is a SOTA.

[In the spirit of 25 random things about me, as if the blogosphere isn’t solipsistic enough, but who am I to talk, really] Growing up, I loved my family’s Siamese cat — Lingi-lingi Lichi Yantgze-pangtze Ching Chong Nietsche Bong Gooey-sooey Leeming Lion Ticki-Wicki-Licki Chang O’Brien [no agreed-upon spelling exists, but I’m sure my brother will weigh in] — as much as anyone could love a pet, especially one that lived for more than 15 years, one that was a world-class mouser, one who came when I called every night … but I digress

I could see spending some money to prolong Lingi’s life. But I can’t see spending a fantastic amount of money to create a facsimile who would look exactly like Lingi, but wouldn’t be.

Now this couple can certainly spend their money however they want — heck, they can clone their sheep and birds if it makes them happy. But one can only imagine how future generations will view such extravagance assuming humanity, led by Americans, continues its refusal to devote even 1% or 2% of our fantastic wealth to averting the incalculable catastrophe to come (see “Hadley Center: Catastrophic 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path“). And, of course, we’re talking about a lot of future generations with a lot of time to curse our greed and willful myopia — 50 generations at least (see NOAA stunner: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years”).

They won’t be cloning many dogs in 2100 if we stay on or near our current emissions path (although we may well have cloned some of the 40% to 70% of species the IPCC says will be extinct by then so I suppose this technology will have some value, ironically).

Indeed, I doubt they will cloning pets in 2050 and maybe even 2030. Humanity will be in all likelihood be in “Planetary Purgatory” by then — knowing with a fierce certainty the consequences we face but also fearing we’ve probably waited too late — since, by the end of the 2020s, the world will be much warmer and will have been hit by multiple near-term climate Pearl Harbors.

You’ll be glad to know “Nina and Edgar Otto say their cloned puppy crosses his paws like the original dog did.” Here is he whole article — though I would like to have seen some discussion of the issues surrounding the health of cloned animals and their potential offspring:

BOCA RATON, Florida (CNN) — Edgar and Nina Otto say they had no idea how their four-legged clone would react to them. But last week, after waiting several months, the yellow Labrador puppy bounded off an airplane at Miami International Airport, right into their arms. Lancelot Encore is his name, or Lancy for short.

The puppy Lancy looks and acts just like Lancelot, their first Lab, who died a year ago, say the Ottos. That’s not surprising, because Lancy is Lancelot’s clone.

“We just got him because we wanted to have Lancelot more than just the 11½ years,” Nina Otto said.

The Ottos submitted the winning bid of $155,000 at an auction with a San Francisco biotech company that had Lancelot cloned in South Korea.

“Did I ever think that I was going to spend $150K on a dog? No,” Edgar Otto said, adding, “This is a really sweet dog, and … we’re very happy that we did it.”

Edgar Otto is the son of Edward Otto, a co-founder of NASCAR. So money was really not an issue for this family.

They got the idea five years ago and had a sample of Lancelot’s DNA extracted and banked when they heard that cloning was possible.

So far, the Ottos say Lancy is eerily similar to Lancelot. They say Lancy walks just like Lancelot and crosses his paws like him, too.

“I only was hoping to get the essence of Lancelot back,” Nina said. “I know I’ve gotten that. Anything else is icing on the cake.”

But is it the same dog?

“It’s as close as you can get,” Edgar said.

The Ottos have nine other dogs, as well as cats, birds and sheep, all living on a spectacular 12-acre spread in Boca Raton, Florida.

“This dog was immediately accepted by the nine dogs,” Edgar Otto said. “There was no baring of teeth, not ever a single growl. So, the pack accepted him.”

Four customers who also placed winning bids in an auction by BioArts International will have their dogs cloned, and those pets will be delivered in the coming months.

BioArts is collaborating with South Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation to produce the dog clones. Cloning dogs is considered difficult because of their complicated reproductive physiology, but the procedure has been perfected in South Korea, according to industry experts.

In Lancy’s case, his DNA was placed inside an egg from a South Korean dog and implanted in an Irish setter in South Korea. About two months later, 1.3-pound Lancy was born in a single litter birth.

BioArts says it’s an expensive process and the company is still analyzing whether pet cloning can be a viable, profitable business.

“I would love to see more families be able to have this experience,” said Lou Hawthorne, the BioArts CEO.

“But due to the complexity and cost of the process, availability is going to be limited for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Lancy is a robust 17-pounder today, and quite healthy according to the Ottos. He romps around their yard like any puppy would. But, the Ottos say, he’s taken a particular fondness to a bush planted at the spot where his original, Lancelot, died last year.

“This is the only guy that’s gone to that bush, and he started burrowing in the bush,” Edgar Otto said.

“I don’t know what to make of that, but we have nine dogs and let them play everyday out here, and this guy just hung out there,” he said.

But this story is not without its critics. The Ottos can do whatever they want with their money, but “a shelter dog just lost out on a great chance of having a home,” said Cherie Wachter of the Humane Society of Broward County, Florida.

Each year, the Humane Society euthanizes 3 million to 4 million pets in the United States.

“I think, until the day comes when animal shelters across this country have empty cages all the time … maybe then think about cloning,” Wachter said.

But the Ottos have a whole zoo full of pets and have donated more than $300,000 to their local Humane Society.

“The only reason I don’t go to the Humane Society is because I would bring every one of them home,” Nina Otto said.

But this process appears to open up a whole new horizon for pet lovers with money in the bank. Edgar Otto says he’s a futurist.

“Think about this,” he said philosophically. “You could have your favorite dog with you your entire life. I don’t think that’s too far-fetched.”

Note to Otto the philosophical futurist: It is NOT your favorite dog, it is just a facsimile. But if that’s the best use you can find for a million or so bucks, who is anyone to judge that — other than the next 100 billion people to walk the planet whose grim fate we apparently could care less about?

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4 Responses to Signs of the Apocalypse, Part 11: Couple pays $155,000 to clone dog

  1. Bob Wright says:

    How about the ice fishermen who went floating off into Lake Erie yesterday? They thanked the sheriff who helped with the rescue by promising to donate money to his opposition in the next election! (He was so thoughtless as to let them know what he thought of them.) Is this end of civilization stuff, or what?

    It would have been funny if one of them hadn’t died.

  2. Anthony, rabid doomsayer says:

    Australia. Victoria record heat and record bushfires. Queensland record flooding. All this in the deepest solar minimum for more than 50 years, what will it be like when the solar max is here.

  3. Col says:

    Everytime I see someone in a $60K+ vehicle I think to myself, “Has the money for solar panels, doesn’t care”. I also think, “Utility maximisation my ass. S/he wants prestige maximisation”. Solar panels pay back, albeit slowly, but vehicles don’t pay back at all. Yet somehow we think of the person in the Beamer as smart and the person with the solar panels as kind of goofy.

    Obviously if it were just about economic utility, or getting from A to B we’d be pushing for a very different transport system and buying fewer and different vehicles. Prestige or social utility in our society can’t be underestimated.

    How can we make some of this climate-fighting stuff (behaviours and techs) prestigious?

    The example of the dog also drives home home the emotional connection issue. How can we forge or fortify the emotional links in people’s minds that their cherished pets are just like the non-captive animals out there and those are in danger due to our actions?

    More generally, how can we get the emotional connectivity to nature going again to a sufficient extent that people act appropriately in the face of this challenge?

  4. April says:

    The cloned dog crosses its paws just like the original dog?? Uh, ALL dogs do that!! What’s next, saying this dog lifts its leg just like the original, and that it’s turds look and smell the same too? Give me a break!! All yellow labs (all purebred dogs) look and basically act alike, that’s the whole point of having breed standards!! Just go out and get another dog of the same breed. Duh.

    Dog cloning and pet pampering in general is a sure sign the country is circling the drain.