Woman Who Spent $50,000 Cloning Her Dog Says She Will Do It Again
A woman who paid a whopping $50,000 (£38,231) to have her beloved pooch cloned has said she's so pleased with the result she'll be doing it again in six years' time.
Amy Vangemert, 55, couldn't bear the thought of her 13-year-old toy poodle Buhner passing away, so decided to get him cloned.
The mum-of-four from Seattle, Washington contacted ViaGen, the Texas-based company that hit headlines after Barbra Streisand spent thousands having her dog cloned in 2017.
After a six-month wait, Amy was handed three identical puppies: Buhner Junior, Baxter and Ditto, all of whom are now aged two.
Amy said: "It's the best decision I've ever made. They are my joy in life. It was worth every penny.
"I couldn't be happier. It's the best decision I have ever made. I would clone over and over again.
"I want these puppies, there's nothing like them."
Amy first got the original Buhner back in 2005 and became 'super attached to him'.
"I love his loyalty and his sweet, gentle nature," she said.
"I started getting emotional after he turned ten. I felt like I could never say goodbye to him.
"I really didn't think I could live without him. My husband worried about me because I was crying every day.
"If Buhner whimpered, I would be terrified that he was sick."
Amy, who also owns a rescue dog called Bella, started looking for another dog, but couldn't find any that caught her eye like Buhner had.
She eventually got the idea to clone her fur-baby after seeing a piece on the news about people cloning their pets.
"I thought I could never do it, but I started doing research," she added.
"I read about a man who cloned his dog in Korea and that there was somewhere in the US who were looking into cloning family pets.
"I talked to my husband about it and we both decided that we didn't want to live without a part of Buhner."
She contacted cloning company ViaGen Pets in August 2016.
The company had been cloning horses and livestock for 17 years before branching out into dogs and cats three and a half years ago.
Getting your pooch cloned will set you back $50,000 (£38,231) whereas cat owners wanting a feline clone can expect to hand over $25,000 (£19,115).
To clone the animals, the company requires 'at least two skin samples' to collect DNA - these are usually taken from the pet's belly or inner leg.
The samples are packed in ice and sent off to a lab where they're popped into an incubator to encourage cells to grow; within two to four weeks there are millions of cells. These can then be harvested and are placed in vials and kept frozen inside liquid nitrogen tanks.
After this, a donor egg is taken from another animal and the nucleus is removed - so none of the donor animal's DNA is left - and is replaced with cells from the vials. Clever, eh?
The embryo is then placed into a surrogate, which gives birth to the puppies and looks after them for eight weeks - and then Bob's your uncle, you've got yourself your very own dog clone.
Dr Shawn Walker, the vice president of science and technology at ViaGen Pets, flew over to Seattle with the puppies to give to Amy, and told her that he had grown very fond of the cute little dogs.
So much so that Amy gave him one of the pups, Baxter, to look after.
She said: "It was the longest few months of my life waiting for these puppies.
"As my husband and I pulled up, my heart was pounding.
"Dr Walker fell in love with them, so I ended up giving him Baxter. I already had Buhner and my rescue dog Bella, so I knew that three more in the mix was too many.
"I never would have let him go if I didn't think Dr Walker would look after him perfectly."
Although genetically identical to Buhner, Amy says the pups all have their own personalities.
"They are identical to Buhner," she said.
"Buhner had a lazy eye and both puppies have the same lazy eye. They are basically identical triplets.
"But there are personality differences. Ditto is more like Buhner, a little lazier and a frantic licker. But BJ has a lot more energy and doesn't lick at all.
"If you are cloning to replicate, you should never do it. If you are cloning to have a little piece of the one you love go on in life then I think it is perfect."
Amy is so pleased with the process that she plans on cloning again in six years.
"I will definitely do it again," she said. I'm going to wait until they are around eight years old."
But not everyone is on-board with the idea and Amy has faced some harsh criticism for cloning her dog.
She said: "I have had some serious backlash from people.
"A couple of acquaintances said I was wrong and it was inhumane, and there were so many dogs out there that need to be adopted.
"But that's like telling a mother that she shouldn't have her own child when there are children out there who need parents. I already have a rescue dog.
"I am not a crazy dog lady; I just wanted a piece of Buhner to live on.
"I had other family members who were ecstatic and envious and relished every moment of the process with me."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS