“I Cloned My Pet” lives again.
And, no — unlike the dogs the show is about – it’s not a repeat.
It was back in January that TLC aired a special broadcast about people who have gotten their dogs cloned — a “documentary” that amounted to little more than an advertisement for the dog cloning industry.
Now the production company that made it has put together a second installment, featuring three new pet owners seeking to resurrect dogs that have died, and TLC will air it tonight at 10 p.m.
If it’s anything like the first, expect another soap opera/infomercial hybrid, with three more highly passionate dog owners, some possibly bordering on bonkers, willing to go to whatever lengths are necessary to bring back a cloned version of their departed dog.
And expect virtually no discussion of any of the disturbing ethical and animal welfare issues surrounding the process.
(You can find those, and the real story behind dog cloning, in my book, “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry.”)
The first installment of “I Cloned My Pet” focused on three customers of dog cloning — a service that began being marketed before dog cloning was even achieved (in 2005) and, for a while, was being marketed by three different companies. It’s now provided by only one laboratory in South Korea.
In the first show, viewers saw Danielle Tarantola receive a clone of her beloved dog Trouble; Peter Austin Onruang finally got a clone of his dog Wolfie; and Sheryl Carpenter of Albuquerque got to meet the clone of her mastiff mix, Blue Frankenstein, even though she was serving a 10-year prison term for gun running by the time the dog arrived.
In tonight’s episode, we meet George Semel, a Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon seeking a clone of his rescued Chihuahua, killed last year when attacked by a Rottweiler; another Los Angeles resident, identified only as Myra, who’s still struggling with the loss of her dog Kabuki and wrapped up in other emotional turmoil as well; and Edgar and Nina Otto from Boca Raton, who won an online cloning auction with their bid of $155,000 and got a copy of their golden retriever, Lancelot.
If it’s like the first one, the new show will put a premium on creating drama while conveniently overlooking cloning’s dark side. Things like:
- The number of dogs used in the cloning process — both as egg donors and surrogate mothers, all of which are sliced open in the process.
- That those dogs — both in the research stages and in commercial cloning — often come from South Korean dog farms, where they are being raised for meat. The dogs responsible for making a clone of your dog possible could end up on dinner plates.
- What happens to the surplus clones that are often produced, because the process doesn’t work everytime and is done repeatedly to ensure a healthy lookalike.
Expect it to perpetuate the myth most customers seem to believe — that a clone of their deceased dog is the same dog, resurrected. While clones are genetic copies, that doesn’t assure they will have the same personality or behave as the original did.
We’re hoping the second installment of “I Cloned My Pet” doesn’t behave as the original did, but that’s doubtful, because the makers of bad television are a lot like cloners — they like to stick with the formula, churning out the same thing over and over again.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, blue frankenstein, book, clients, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, commercial cloning, concerns, copying, customers, danielle tarantola, dark side, death, documentary, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, edgar otto, eternal, eternity, ethics, genetics, george semel, issues, john woestendiek, laboratory, lancelot, life, media, myra, nina otto, peter onruang, pets, science, sheryl carpenter, south korea, television, tlc, trouble, wolfie
The Learning Channel airs an hour-long special on pet cloning tonight that looks at three dog owners who sought laboratory-made replicas of their deceased pets.
Judging from the little I’ve seen of it, I think the piece is likely to reinforce the notion that dog lovers who seek to “bring back” their pets are a pretty determined, if not rabid, lot. That notion, as anyone who has read my book knows, isn’t far off the mark.
As shown in “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Dogs Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry,” the customers seeking clones, the South Korean scientists who worked to make dog cloning a reality, and those who marketed the service, all had one thing in common — a strong, sometime boundary-exceeding will to make it happen.
Tonight’s TLC special, “I Cloned My Pet,” focuses primarily on Danielle Tarantola, who has received one clone of her dog, Trouble, and expects to soon to take delivery of a second.
But I’m curious to see if — in addition to showing cute puppies — the show will give equal time to the less than cute, often downright ugly, side of dog cloning: such as deaths and deformities, and how many dogs it takes to produce a single clone; such as what happens to surplus clones who don’t come out exactly right; such as what goes on to happen to the egg donor and surrogate dogs after they make their contribution to creating a clone in South Korea.
Trouble died three years ago and his owner’s home in Staten Island is still a veritable shrine to the canine. Trouble’s face graces the walls, and the comforter on her bed, in which she sleeps, or slept, beside an urn of his ashes every night.
She’d even saved the last piece of chicken the 18-year-old dog nibbled on.
Tarantola got a big discount on her cloning bill from South Korea’s Sooam Institute in exchange for cooperating with the makers of the documentary, so we’ll have to wait and see how objective she, and it, are.
I’m told the report also includes the stories of two other customers intent on getting their dogs cloned, one of whom is a California man featured in my book. The other is a New Mexico woman who had her dog cloned even as she faced a prison sentence of a duration that will likely preclude her from spending much quality time with his replica.
“I Cloned My Pet” airs tonight at 9 p.m. on TLC.
You can catch a sneak peak of it at People Pets.
You can expect me to weigh in on it in days ahead.
(Photo: Snuppy, the world’s first canine clone / By John Woestendiek)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, author, book, business, canine, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, danielle tarantola, death, documentary, dog, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, grieving, i cloned my pet, john woestendiek, loss, marketing, pets, science, south korea, television, the learning channel, tlc, trouble, tv
For the second in our continuing series about dogs in advertising, we bring you the Travelers Insurance commercial.
It features a shaggy dog who can’t seem to find a secure enough place to store what’s clearly his favorite bone — and is even losing sleep over it.
The song in the background — “Trouble,” by Ray LaMontagne — is the perfect choice.
I assumed the star of the ad was a Wheaten terrier, but a post on the internet — from somebody who sounds like she knows what she’s talking about — says the dog, named Chopper, is actually a mutt.
All of our “Woof in Advertising” selections can be found archived here.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: advertisements, advertising, animals, chopper, commercials, dogs, dogs in advertising, insurance, marketing, peace of mind, pets, security, travelers insurance, trouble, videos, woof in advertising
Trouble, who Helmsley left $12 million — but who only got $2 million – passed away in Florida. She was 12.
Either her death was a well guarded secret, or the news media doesn’t sniff out stories as quickly as it used to: Trouble died almost six months ago, in December. (The media seems equally callous about Trouble’s gender, with a good half of all reports calling her a him.)
While Helmlsey, who died in 2007, wanted Trouble buried next to her, that won’t be happening.
Even though Helmsley is interred in a 12,000 square-foot family mausoleum, a board member at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, north of New York City said, sniffily: Dogs are not permitted.
Instead, Trouble has been cremated, and her remains are being “privately retained,” according to the New York Daily News.
As for the remainder of the $2 million earmarked for the dog’s care — probably a good $1.5 million – it will revert to the Helmsley Trust and, if the past is any indication, be spent as the the trustees see fit, as opposed to following Helmsley’s wishes.
While Helmsley left the dog $12 million, a judge later knocked it down to $2 million. Helmsley also requested that much of her fortune, estimated at upwards of $5 billion, go to dog-related causes, but she was snubbed in that regard as well. Only a small percentage of the millions the foundation has given away has gone to animal welfare organizations. Several sued to get a bigger piece, but a judge said no.
Since 2007, Trouble has been cared for by Carl Lekic, the general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle hotel in Sarasota.
Lekic estimated about $100,000 a year was spent on taking care of Trouble – $8,000 for grooming, $1,200 for food and the rest for his fee and a full-time security guard.
Trouble died in December after “a series of health setbacks that left her blind and infirm,” the Daily News said.
Trouble was purchased at a Manhattan pet shop to console Helmsley after the death of her husband, Harry, and spent most of her life in luxury, traveling with Helmsley in private jets and stretch limousines.
Despite her inherited millions, Trouble was not the richest dog in the world, MSNBC reports.
That distinction belongs to Gunther IV, a German dog left $372 million by his owner. In America, Miss Charlie Brown, an English cocker spaniel in South Dakota, stands to inherit $130 million from her mineral magnate owners. And Oprah Winfrey, MSNBC said, is rumored to have earmarked $30 million for the care of her pups.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, billionaire, dead, death, dies, dog, dogs, estate, foundation, gunther IV, helmsley, last wishes, leona helmsley, maltese, media, millionaire, miss charlie brown, news, oprah winfrey, pets, rich, trouble, trust, trustees, wealth, wealthiest dogs, will
If Leona Helmsley was betrayed as much in life as she is being betrayed in death, it’s easy to understand why she might have become the bitch — and we’re not talking female dog — she was so often portrayed as.
In the latest development with the wealth she left behind, a second judge has ruled, in effect, that the foundation divvying up her fortune among charitable groups need not follow her express wish that much of that money be spent on the care of dogs.
The judge denied a bid by the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and other animal groups to get a larger share of Helmsley’s billions.
Although Helmsley directed a share of her massive fortune go to “the care of dogs” — that being in addition to the $12 million she asked be left to her own dog — the Helmsley Foundation’s trustees have seen fit to dispense most of the foundation money among organizations that have little or nothing to do with canines.
According to the animal welfare groups, only about $100,000 of the $450 million the foundation has given away has gone to dog causes.
The dog charities argued they should have standing to challenge how the foundation gives away its money in light of Helmsley’s written statements and last wishes. Wayne Pacelle, president of HSUS, called the $100,000 received so far ”a trifling amount, and contrary to Helmsley’s intentions.”
Surrogate’s Court Judge Nora Anderson in Manhattan rejected the bid by the animal welfare organizations to intervene in the case, agreeing with a judge who ruled earlier that the trustees have sole discretion in how to distribute the money, the New York Post reported yesterday.
She said she feared the groups’ challenge could open the floodgates to countless lawsuits from dog organizations around the world.
It’s hardly the first time Helmsley’s last wishes have been overruled since her death: Of that $12 million she left in her will for the care of her Maltese, named Trouble, a judge reduced the amount to $2 million.
Beyond what she intended to leave for the care and feeding of Trouble, Helmsley had another $5 to $8 billion, according to estimates of the trust’s worth.
Helmsley, who died in 2007, wrote in a 2004 mission statement for the trust that she wanted that money used for “1) purposes related to the provision or care of dogs and 2) such other charitable activities as the Trustees shall determine.”
In 2009, though, the Surrogate’s Court found that the mission statement did not place any legal restrictions on what donations could be made from the trust.
Later that year, the ASPCA, the Humane Society and Maddie’s Fund, filed a motion asking the court to vacate its earlier order and allow them to intervene. The primary interest of those groups was not, of course, in seeing solely that Helmsley’s wishes were honored, but neither, it seems, are the foundation’s. The animal welfare groups’ goals seem more aligned with her wishes, though.
By all descriptions, the so-called ”queen of mean” was a hard-hearted woman, with one soft spot — dogs.
The foundation doling out her fortune doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of respect for dogs, or for Helmsley.
I’m no legal expert, just a dog lover, and I’m not asking for Trouble. But if I arranged to leave my fortune – non-existent though it may currently be — to my dog Ace, or anywhere else, and you didn’t carry out my wishes, you can be sure I’d be back to haunt you.
I’d show you mean.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, aspca, bequeath, bequest, billions, bitch, charities, death, dogs, editorial, fortune, groups, helmsley foundation, hsus, humane society of the united states, inheritance, intervene, judge, leona helmsley, mean, organizations, pets, queen of mean, ruling, trouble, wayne pacelle, will
Apparently, there was no need to even question the cat after this yellow lab, in the view of his owner, all but confessed to the crime — getting into the cat treat bag.
For all those who say dogs don’t feel guilt, or something closely akin to it, explain this reaction.
Based on it, Denver, the yellow lab who is the second to be interrogated, is sent to the pen — though I would point out the evidence was entirely circumstantial, there was no DNA testing, he was never read his rights and he received no trial before a jury of his peers.
We hope his sentence was a short one.
And we still think it’s possible the cat did it.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appearances, cat, cat treats, cats, circumstantial, confession, crime, denver, detective, dogs, evidence, funny, golden retriever, guilt, guilty, investigation, lie to me, macy, pets, remorse, showing, suspects, treats, trouble, truth, video, yellow lab
Gail Posner, the daughter of corporate-takeover king Victor Posner, has bequeathed her $8.3 million Miami mansion and a $3 million trust fund to her dogs, the New York Post reports.
Also named in the will were seven personal aides, including bodyguards and housekeepers, who were given a total of $26 million — and the right to live rent-free in the mansion while caring for the animals, according to court papers.
The 67-year-old heiress died in March.
Posner had three pets, including a Chihuahua named Conchita that she once called “one of the world’s most spoiled dogs.”
Gail Posner’s only living son, Hollywood screenwriter Bret Carr, has filed a lawsuit claiming his mom was drugged and “brainwashed” by her aides into leaving so much to her dogs.
In a 2007 interview, Posner admitted to buying a $15,000 diamond-studded Cartier necklace for Conchita. and once considered buying him his own Range Rover.
Posner changed her will in 2008, after she was already dying from cancer, and added the vast sums for her pups and workers.
The case is reminiscent of that of hotel heiress Leona Helmsley, who left $12 million to her Maltese, named Trouble, while snubbing two of her grandkids. A judge later knocked the amount the dog would receive down to a mere $2 million.
(Photo: Miami Herald)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: $3 million, animals, bequeath, bret carr, cancer, chihuahua, conchita, daughter, dogs, estate, gail posner, heiress, lawsuit, leona helmsley, mansion, miami, news, ohmidog!, pets, son, trouble, victor posner, will
Three animal welfare groups are accusing the trustees of Leona Helmsley’s multibillion-dollar estate of ignoring her wishes that the bulk of her fortune should go to dogs.
In a court petition filed yesterday, the animal advocates said the trustees have shown “disdain” for Helmsley’s wishes by donating only $100,000 of $137 million doled out so far to dog welfare.
The petition was filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Maddie’s Fund, according to an Associated Press report.
The groups want the court to throw out a judge’s February decision that gave the trustees for the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust sole authority to determine which charities would benefit from her estate.
Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Humane Society, said dog welfare was “the only charitable interest specifically designated in the trust instrument. … But what we’ve seen is an utter disdain for the cause of animal welfare and a complete writing off of the animal welfare concern.”
In April, the trustees gave away $136 million to hospitals, foundations and the homeless. Just $100,000 went to an animal-welfare group, the ASPCA. Another $900,000 went to groups that train guide dogs for the blind.
The trust, in a statement posted on its Web site, said Helmsley, who died in 2007, never wanted her fortune just to go to dogs: “Did Leona Helmsley intend for this charitable trust to focus on the care and help of dogs, rather than people? Absolutely not,” the statement said.
Helmsley, whose fortune was estimated at $5 billion to $8 billion after her death at age 87, also named her dog, Trouble, as a beneficiary, leaving a $12 million trust fund for the white Maltese. A judge later reduced Trouble’s take to $2 million.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal charities, aspca, charitable, court, estate, fortune, helmsley, hsus, humane society of the united states, lawsuit, leona, leona helmsley, maddie's fund, maltese, millions, petition, trouble, trust, trustees
I don’t begin to understand the intricacies of estate law, or the intricacies of Leona Helmsley — but I do believe this: A person, even if they are certifiably insane, deserves to have their last request honored.
With the distribution of the first $136 million from Helmsley’s multibillion-dollar estate, its trustees have shown — like judges before them — they don’t give a squat about Helmsley’s wishes, or the nation’s dogs.
The bulk of the money went to medical centers; only $1 million of the estate was donated to the care of dogs, which Helmsley had designated as primary beneficiary of her $5 billion.
“This is a trifling and embarrassingly small amount,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. “Mrs. Helmsley’s wishes are clearly being subverted.”
Pacelle added, “We are extremely disappointed that less than 1 percent of the allocation announced is going to animal-related organizations, and only one-tenth of 1 percent is going to animal welfare organizations … We are in touch with the interested parties and are hoping to have a satisfactory resolution — a much larger percentage than 1 percent.”
After Helmsley’s 2007 death, it was revealed that she had drafted a statement four years earlier listing poor people and dogs as the causes to which she wanted her money donated. She crossed out the poor a year later. In February, though, a Manhattan judge ruled that the trustees had sole discretion in disbursing her assets and that the entire estate did not have to go to the dogs.
Helmsley also left $12 million to her Maltese, Trouble, but a judge reduced Trouble’s trust fund to $2 million in negotiating a $6 million settlement with two of Mrs. Helmsley’s grandchildren who were left out of her will.
Tuesday’s grants went to a digestive diseases center at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center ($40 million) and Mount Sinai Medical Center ($35 million). The Mount Sinai money is to be used to create a center to study the electrical properties of cells and tissues and to establish a Helmsley Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, according to the New York Times. The $1 million for animal welfare was divided among 10 charities, including the ASPCA and Guide Dogs for the Blind.
I’m not sure even the honor of having a “bowel disease center” named after her would make up for the total disregard for her wishes. The trustees have shown that they are not to be trusted — at least when it comes to doling out the dough in a manner that comes anywhere close to what she wanted.
It shouldn’t be up to relatives, judges or anyone else to reinterpret the instructions one leaves upon one’s death — even if the deceased is mentally incompetent, as some might argue leaving $5 billion to dogs indicates. I’m not one of them. Who’s to say probing the mysteries of human bowels is more important than animal welfare? The trustees, apparently, in a decision that shouldn’t even be their’s to make in the first place. A person’s last wishes — if they’re not harming anyone — should be carried out, doggone it, even if they are stark raving mad.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 23rd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, assets, blind, charities, dogs, estate, fund, grant, guide dogs, helmsley, hsus, humane society, judge, leona, maltese, settlement, trouble, trust, trustees, will
The judge overseeing the probate of Helmsley’s will has ruled that the billions of dollars that will flow into the charitable trust she created do not have to be spent solely for the care and welfare of dogs.
The judge’s decision does not affect the $12 million Helmsley bequeathed to her Maltese, Trouble (above), who was the biggest named beneficiary in her will.
The judge, Troy K. Webber, said that the trustees who control the trust may distribute the money as they see fit. The ruling, dated last Thursday, was reported in today’s New York Times.
“The court finds that the trustees may apply trust funds for such charitable purposes and in such amounts as they may, in their sole discretion, determine,” Judge Webber wrote.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 26th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: Add new tag, animals, bequeath, bequest, billions, charitable, charities, dogs, fortune, helmsley, judge, leona helmsley, pets, trouble, trust, trustees, will