Pet Cloning Lab Set to Open; Residents Debate Ethics

Ever thought of cloning your favorite pet? You can, and it will happen right here in the Madison area.

A lab owned by California-based Genetic Savings and Clone is under construction in Waunakee. It's set to open in late March.

But already those living in the small village of 9,000 are discussing procedures, economics and ethics.

"I think you're messing with nature, I'm not sure that's something the Bible talks about," says dog owner and Waunakee resident Lisa Meier.

Resident Terry Richard Lafferty disagrees. "if I really loved the dog, it's just like a kid if you have it for 10 to 15 years, I'd probably do it."

"I think it's great, more business is better, right?" says Mary Rauls.

The streets of Waunakee are buzzing with the news of a soon to open pet cloning lab.

"I'm not sure that that's a good idea," says Meier.

But its lead scientist reassures they are not belittling the lives of animals.

"Because cloning is a new technology everyone is a little concerned or afraid," says GSC Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Philip Damiani, "And they jump right away to saying it's unethical without really getting all the facts."

The fact is they're not making an identical copy of the animal. Dr. Damiani says it will have the same genetic makeup, it will look the same and it will have some similar behavioral traits, but it will not be an exact match and it will not be made in large quantities.

"They think it's a mass assembly line and that we can crank out hundreds of thousands of clones in a short period of time so I think they get the misconception we will be adding to the overpopulation of pets."

Why Waunakee, Wisconsin? Damiani says the area is a pioneer in biotechnology.

"Because Madison is so pet friendly it may hit a little to hard at home but as far as I'm gathering there's not really that much besides the typical controversy associated with cloning," he says.

A controversy residents continue to debate.

"Cloning pets I don't think is a big deal," says Rauls, "When you get to cloning people, that's a whole different story."

Those opposed to pet cloning are now trying to push a new law through the California legislature that would outlaw the sale of all cloned pets in that state.

As for Wisconsin, for $50,000 you can clone your pet cat and eventually your dog, too.

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