In a recent interview for diversityBarbra Streisand revealed that two of her dogs are clones of her previous dog – a late Coton du Tulear named Samantha. She has been criticized for cloning, and I share the concern of many people about it.
When cloning, several dogs are used in addition to the cloned dog. For success, eggs must be harvested from donor dogs, which is done through surgery. The genetic material is removed from these eggs before the DNA of the dog to be cloned is inserted. Then the egg must be inserted into a replacement dog through another operation. Multiple eggs from multiple donors are usually required, and the cloning success rate is less than a third. That means many dogs undergo surgery and life in a laboratory for every cloned dog, a point many critics have highlighted.
Much of the criticism relates to how many dogs there are already that don’t have a home. It annoys many people that Streisand would go to such great lengths to create their dogs through cloning when there were more than enough dogs available. With so many dogs without homes and even dying from lack of space in animal shelters, it is difficult to justify dog cloning efforts. Of course, she used to acquire dogs through breeders rather than shelters and rescue workers, so it is unlikely that dogs would have been saved had she not made the decision to clone her dogs.
A big problem with cloning is the expectation of getting a dog that is identical to the original pet. While there are likely to be strong similarities because the genetics are the same, the environmental influences will be different. All of the experiences that made the original dog who they were will be different, and all of the factors that created the relationship between the person and the dog will also be different. It can be detrimental to a new relationship if the person wants a dog to be just like a previous pet. (To her credit, Streisand has said that the dogs have different personalities and that she is waiting to see if they are serious enough to get Samantha, so she seems to understand that clones are not exactly duplicates of an older dog.)