One of the men behind the push to clone dogs — and market the service to bereaved pet owners — seems more convinced than ever that doing so was, if not a mistake, at least a quest that led to some bad places.
Lou Hawthorne, who established a cell bank (Genetic Savings & Clone) and pushed researchers at Texas A&M University to try and clone the world’s first dog in the late 1990s — in hopes of turning dog cloning into a profitable business — said in an interview last week that cloning has led to thousands of dogs suffering each year.
“A cloned dog contributes to the happiness of a family but I do not think it is possible to do it without a huge amount of suffering to hundreds of others,” Hawthorne told The Mirror, which was reporting on the first dog cloning for a customer in the UK.
Hawthorne has been out of the dog cloning business since shutting down BioArts, the successor to Genetic Savings & Clone, which closed not long after efforts to clone a dog at Texas A&M were dropped.
That research was funded by John Sperling, the wealthy founder of the University of Phoenix and the boyfriend of Hawthorne’s mother. Millions of dollars were poured into the attempt to clone Joan Hawthorne’s dog, Missy, a husky-border collie mix.
They picked up where American scientists left off, and dog cloning was achieved within two years with the 2005 birth of Snuppy, an Afghan hound manufactured from cells taken from a veterinary student’s dog.
Hawthorne, under the auspices of Bio Arts, later teamed up with Hwang Woo Suk, one of the lead scientists on the Snuppy project who opened his own lab after being fired from the university.
First, he had Hwang clone Missy, resulting in a dog named Mira, but when the clone was delivered to Joan Hawthorne she didn’t want her. She told a New York Times reporter at the time the puppy was too rambunctious.
Then Hawthorne and Hwang teamed up to produce and sell more clones. They held a “Golden Clone Giveaway,” in which a free cloning was offered to the winner of an essay contest, and an online auction where five winning bidders, offering upwards of $150,000, had their dogs cloned.
A second South Korean company RNL Bio, with help from another of Snuppy’s creators at SNU, was also cloning dogs — and it produced the first one sold to a customer not connected to the industry, a pit bull named Booger, five copies of which were cloned from the dead dog and, eventually, brought home by the California woman who owned him.
RNL pulled out of cloning pet dogs in 2011, not long after the publication of my book, “DOG, INC: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
Hawthorne had already stepped away from the business by then. In September of 2009, Hawthorne pulled out of the partnership with Hwang, citing, among other reasons, his concerns that accepted animal welfare protocols – or at least those accepted by most Western countries — weren’t being followed by the South Koreans.
He also, at the time, blamed court fights over patent rights, the high cost of cloning, deformities and abnormalities that occurred in the cloning process, and what he called the ”distraction factor” — annoying questions from the media and bloggers about the wisdom and ethics of cloning dogs.
(As a newspaper reporter who wrote one of the earliest articles on commercial dog cloning, then a blogger, and then the author of “Dog, Inc.,” an expose of the dog cloning industry, I’m pretty sure that latter group included me.)
In his interview wih the Mirror, Hawthorne referred to the vast numbers of dogs that it took — up to 80, he said – to clone just one.
And, he said, random dogs used for cloning by Korean researchers were returned to the dog farms they were borrowed from — farms where dogs are raised for their meat.
“That is why I got out,” Hawthorne said. “I couldn’t care less if the cloning business world collapses but I care about suffering.”
Sooam told me, in 2009, that dogs used in the process were returned to the farms. In more recent years, however, Sooam has insisted that both the dogs from whom egg cells are harvested, and those who serve as surrogate mothers, are sent to adoptive homes when their use in the laboratory is completed.
Hawthorne’s remarks came after the birth of Mini Winnie, a dachshund cloned by Hwang’s lab for a London resident who won a contest sponsored by Sooam. As Sooam attempts to spread the word about its unusual service, Hawthorne has taken to speaking out against it.
Hawthorne now cares for two clones of Missy — Mira and Missy Too.
The Mirror reports Hawthorne has more recently been working on cures for human cancer and Alzheimer’s, and the newspaper quoted him as saying human cloning would be safer and more viable than dog cloning.
“Unlike the dog industry, no human would die.”
(Photos: Lou Hawthorne with Mira; Snuppy at Seoul National University, James Symington, winner of the “Golden Clone Giveaway,” with five clones of his former police dog, TrakR, in Los Angeles; Mira at the dog park; by John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, bioengineering, clone, cloned, cloning, cloning dogs, cost, dog cloning, dog cloning book, dog inc., dogs, ethics, first, hwang woo suk, interview, james symington, john woestendiek, lou hawthorne, mini winnie, mira, mirror, missy, missy too, pets, science, seoul national university, snuppy, sooam, technology, texas a&m university, trakr, uk
A woman who didn’t want to tell a TV news team “how she felt” about her daughter being shot threw a rock at them, shook a baseball bat at them, and then sent her dogs after reporter Abbey Niezgoda of ABC 6 News in Rhode Island.
The crew was on assignment in Providence, seeking to interview the mother of a teenage girl who was shot at a graduation party over the weekend.
Instead of politely declining to speak on-camera, Melissa Lawrence hurled a rock at ABC6 photographer Marc Jackson, then went inside for a baseball bat. Seconds later, she told her dogs to attack.
As Lawrence shouted commands, the dogs chased Niezgoda into a backyard a few houses away.
Niezgoda was a treated for a bite on her forearm.
Melissa Lawrence was charged with two counts of felony assault with a dangerous weapon.
Lawrence’s daughter, who was shot in the lower back, has since been released from the hospital.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abbey niezgoda, animals, bite, bitten, chase, crew, dogs, interview, media, mother, news, pets, providence, reporter, rhode island, shooting, team, teenager, television, tv, victim
The Oklahoma tornado victim whose missing dog emerged from the rubble in the middle of a TV news interview may get another prayer answered.
Barbara Garcia’s Scottish terrier, Bowser, was spotted under a pile debris by the news team interviewing her after she lost her home in Moore.
“Well, I thought that God had just answered one prayer, to let me be OK,” Garcia said after freeing her dog. “But he answered both of them.”
Now, those touched by the scene, which went viral on the Internet, have donated enough money to make a new home a possibility.
A fund set up to help her get back on her feet and under a new roof was approaching $40,000 as of Monday night, just $10,000 short of its $50,000 goal.
“We’re still looking for a corporate sponsor who will match funds donated, so we can make the dream of building a new home for Barbara and Bowser a reality. Not only did Barbara lose her home, her daughter did as well,” said Erin DeRuggiero who’s spearheading the fund drive.
According to CBS News, the clip of Bowser emerging from the rubble has been viewed more than 3 million times.
“All of the other things … you know, one by one they can be replaced. A lot of it wasn’t even important, but I couldn’t replace him,” Garcia said in an interview.
Garcia didn’t have homeowner’s insurance.
“I was really just compelled, personally, to do something,” said DeRuggiero. In the first five days of the fundraiser, more than $35,000 was raised.
“Before the CBS piece aired, I didn’t know Barbara Garcia personally, but was incredibly moved by her story and of her reunion with her sweet dog,” DeRuggiero wrote on the Gofundme page. “… My goal is to ease her recovery, raise enough money to help her start to rebuild or relocate her life, and above all else, to show her that ‘life in the big city’ also means helping one another, even from 1500 miles away.”
Garcia says she’s overwhelmed by the support: “I didn’t know I was that important. Really, truly, I didn’t. I just thank everybody,” Garcia said in a follow-up interview with CBS News.
The “Build Barbara Garcia a Home” fundraising page can be found here.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, barbara garcia, bowser, bowsie, campaign, dog, dogs, donate, donations, drive, fund, interview, live, money, moore, oklahoma, pets, raised, scottish terrier, television, tornado, tv, victim, viral
Michael Vick’s first post-prison endorsement contract — with a company called Unequal Technologies — appears to already be paying dividends, both for the quarterback and the company.
Vick, in exchange for a piece of the company, is now shilling for Unequal, which makes protective padding for athletes, designed to help prevent injuries among those who take part in contact sports — dogfighting, of course, not included.
For Vick, who once raked in $7 million a year in endorsements, the contract puts him back on the lucrative path of touting products for pay — and, though it’s not quite on level of Nike and Coke, it’s another step, as he sees it, to redeeming his image, left tarnished by a dogfighting scandal and prison term. He also reveals, in this interview, that he has a “V 7″ shoe and clothing line in the works.
For Unequal Technologies, teaming up with the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback meant an immediate burst of publicity and a huge surge in sales. Chief Executive Rob Vito said within a day of Vick’s signing, there were 10 million hits on Unequal Technologies website. ”The sales went up 1,000% when Mike came on board,” he said, adding that they are still about triple what they were a year ago.
The company declined to disclose the terms of the agreement, but both Vito and Vick, in this interview with the Wall Street Journal, say the quarterback was given a share in the company, as opposed to a flat fee.
In the wide-ranging interview, Vick seems to contradict himself several times. He says he doesn’t read newspaper accounts about himself, then says he reads them before games because their negativity motivates him. He says he’s not a Christian, but that his connection with God is ”uncanny”.
He says he wouldn’t change anything about his life, except maybe shortening his prison sentence, from 18 months to five months. His dogfighting conviction and imprisonment, he says, led to an opportunity to read, and work on improving himself.
“Because I handled it so well, I think that’s why the Lord is continuing to bless me,” he says.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, clothing line, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, football, hsus, interview, kevlar, michael vick, nfl, padding, pets, philadelphia eagles, protection, redemption, rob vito, shoes, unequal, unequal technologies, vick
Not being a close follower of his extra-curricular activities, I didn’t know Cowell has loaned his unexplainable celebrity to campaigns against wearing fur, for spaying and neutering, and cautioning against leaving dogs in hot cars.
Leave it to PETA to straighten me out.
Here are some excerpts of a recent interview PETA had with Cowell:
“…If I was buying a dog, I wouldn’t buy it from a pet shop, I’d go to a rescue shelter … It’s not where the dog came from, it’s the dog. … I get really annoyed when people start telling me about the make and the model of their dog like (it was a) car … A dog is a dog, no matter what background they’ve got … Often, the mutts, the strays have got more personality than a highly bred pedigree.
On dogs as accessories:
Well, I think the fashion accessory thing has become quite the thing here. You’ve got the rap and pop stars carrying around the highly bred dogs …. They think it’d be embarrassing to be seen carrying a mutt … when actually it would be endearing — people would think they cared more about the dog than their image.
I think we’ve got to be balanced on this…I think it’s nice that they have made an issue of buying a dog for the kids. What I think would be great would be if they also took in a shelter dog, just from anywhere, to balance it. I’ll even pay for the dog food!
On dog shows:
Well, again, I have two thoughts about them, because I think the vast majority of people who go and watch something like Crufts or who are involved are animal lovers, not animal haters. The problem (in the U.K. at least) is that we have elitism in the dog world, which does bother me, for who’s to say what makes the perfect dog?
Yeah, dawg. The nerve. What gives those dog show judges the right to put contestants through the hoops and then sit back in judgment?
For Cowell’s full remarks, visit The PETA Files blog.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american idol, anti-fur, blog, bo obama, bobama, campaigns, cars, celebrity, crufts, dog food, dog shows, dogs, fur, interview, judges, judging, mutts, neutering, pedigree, personality, peta, purebreds, rescue, shelter, simon cowell, spaying, strays, the peta files, westminster
Barack Obama’s use of the term “girly dog” has raised the hackles (and who knows what other body parts) of a Huffington Post blogger who says it was disparaging — a threat both to his manhood and that of his dog, Manuel.
“…Clearly Mr. Obama meant “girly” in the pejorative sense, not as an adjective denoting “nice for girls,” but rather to suggest a dog that lives in conflict with its own manly nature or the manly nature of dogs in general,” wrote blogger Billy Kimball.
I can’t get too bent out of shape about the president-elect’s remark — “girly” somehow sounds less pejorative coming from Obama’s mouth than, say, an Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, in hindsight, perhaps a more politically correct term would have been “little yappy pipsqueak dog.”
Kimball’s not willing to cut the president-elect any slack in his piece, written in response to an exchange between Obama and his wife, Michelle, during an interview with Barbara Walters. When Walters suggested the First Family get a Havanese, the small breed of dog she has (and Kimball has), Obama said, “It sounds kinda like a girly dog…We’re going to have a big rambunctious dog.”
“By saying that he wanted a ‘big, rambunctious dog,’ Obama was trying to don the mantle of the ‘guy’s guy.’ “ Kimball wrote. “Big rambunctious dogs, through their genetic link to working and hunting breeds, establish one’s bona fides with the masses. Those toy breeds who don’t have to work for living probably belong to people who don’t either – or so the conventional wisdom would have it.”
Kimball gives Obama points for considering a shelter dog, but says, “making distinctions about dogs based on breed is nothing less than a form of canine racism and exactly the sort of thing many of us had hoped we were leaving behind on Nov. 3. ”
The truth is many small breeds have established themselves as some of the fiercest hunters. Kimball also misses the mark when he says Obama promised his children a dog if he won the election. Actually, he promised them one once it was over, win or lose.
Most ludicrous, though, is Kimball’s argument that it would be irresponsible to own a large breed of dog at the White House.
“Obama is acting irresponsibly by getting a dog much larger than is practical for people in his zip code who don’t have a Rose Garden and South Lawn for it to run around on,” Kimball says.
For one thing, Obama will have a Rose Garden and a South Lawn. For another, saying big dogs shouldn’t live in the city is precisely the kind of “canine racism” Kimball seems to be accusing Obama of.
A dog’s size doesn’t define it, and it shouldn’t define us — however much some people may try to read into things.
Your little dog doesn’t mean you’re “girly,” any more than my big dog means I’m compensating for some shortcoming with my bona fides.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 1st, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: barack obama, big, big dogs, canine, dog, dogs, first family, first pet, gender, girly, girly dogs, havanese, interview, little, little dogs, manly, manly dogs, obama, pets, racism, size, stereotypes, walters