Texas-based company, Genetics Savings and Clone, is offering bereaved animal-lovers the chance to 'reincarnate' their dead pets. For a mere $2,500, the firm will take cells from a dead or dying animal and store them until they can be cloned. 'It's a major scientific challenge, but the team is 90 per cent there' said Mark Westhusin, the Texas A&M university veterinary physiologist heading the project.
The company is a spin-off from the university's Missyplicity project, which hopes to produce the world's first cloned dog, using a border collie called Missy. But Ian Wilmut, who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep warns that people may be disappointed. 'That's because genetics accounts for just a fraction of a pet's colouration and demeanour. Coat colour patches will not be the same in the clone as they were in the original' he said.
Nathan Winograd of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also has reservations: 'We'd rather see these folks pay tribute to their departed companions by saving another, like by adopting a dog or cat from a local shelter, instead of cloning' he said.