Animal cloning: man’s best friend, once again

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What happens when it hurts too much to say goodbye?David and Alicia Tschirhart loved their yellow lab, Marley, but they never knew how much, until this day in 2014, when they hiked with him in the hills near their home in San Diego.

“Alicia left the path to take a cane to help her cross the path,” David recalls. “And Marley all of a sudden like she gushed out at me and he started clawing at the floor where Alicia was looking for a cane.” And I didn’t know what was going on. Alicia kind of backed away.

“When I looked closer I saw it was a rattlesnake,” he told correspondent Tracy Smith.

Rattles are common on these trails, which are very steep and miles from any hospital. And the Tschirharts didn’t have cell phones with them. For Alicia, who was four months pregnant, a snake bite could have been a disaster. Luckily, 12-year-old Marley scared the snake – and a few months later, the Tshirharts’ first daughter, Maddie, was born. “Marley had saved my family,” David said. “And we were moved that time, and we just realized how lucky we were that he did that then.” ”

But by then, Marley had been diagnosed with cancer, and by Thanksgiving weekend 2014 it was clear the end was near.

“I just remember the last thing you said to her was, you know, you kept saying, ‘Thanks for being the best dog,'” said Alicia. “And I was just crying, and I was holding his hand. ”

“He was, yeah, everything he did, you know, was just out of love,” David said.

And their love for Marley was so strong that they couldn’t really let go. So the Tshirharts turned to ViaGen Pets, of Austin, TX, a company that has cloned hundreds of animals for a multitude of grateful owners, including (according to ViaGen’s director of customer service, Melain Rodriguez) Barbra Streisand: “We did, yes – her dog was dead. And I think she knew what we’re doing, and we were able to get samples very quickly. And there was actually more than one puppy born. “

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Marley et son clone de Yellow Lab, Ziggy. CBS News

Rodriguez said it works like this: Your vet takes a tissue sample from your pet and sends it to ViaGen.

And for up to $ 50,000, the company will grow the cells, create embryos, implant them into a surrogate, and deliver a clone of your loved one.

But animal rights groups say forcing dogs and cats to become substitutes for clones is simply inhumane.

Smith asked, “You know the Humane Society says pet cloning should be banned?” ”

“I understand that,” Roderiguez replied. “And they are certainly entitled to their opinion. We have a lot of customers who would be very upset if that were the case. So we continually receive positive feedback, wonderful notes of appreciation, that our customers are so happy that they are. something that we provide. ”

And happy is the key word with the Tschirhart.

Marley’s clone, Ziggy, is a yellow ball of exuberance. But for David and Alicia, it is nothing less than the rebirth of Marley.

“They rang the doorbell with the dog, and I stood there with my mouth open for about five minutes, because I just couldn’t believe how accurate he looked,” Alicia said.

“He’s exactly Marley’s twin,” David said. “So he’s, I guess, in the same environment. So really, he became the same dog. ”

And while pet cloning is still controversial, it can mean, for some at least, that with the right amount of love, science, and money, you never really have to say goodbye. .


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Story produced by John D’Amelio. Publisher: Remington Korper.

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