Pet extravaganza – Where do we draw the line?

Disclaimer: I love my dogs. If something was good for them, I would provide it. If they were in need, I would do whatever is in my power to help them.

A three legged dog apparently got a high tech prosthetic limb

(CBS)  Prosthetic limbs have long been used to help humans who have lost a limb live a normal life. Now man’s best friend is getting a leg up from prosthetics. 

Prosthetics on animals is not actually new, reports veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner Bell. But there’s an exciting new technique that’s given a three-legged dog a fourth leg and a new life. 

At first glance, Cassidy looks like an ordinary dog on a walk. 

Until you take a closer look. Then you see his brand new high-tech artificial leg. 

“We decided to do the implant June of ’07,” said Steven Posovsky. 

When Steven and Susan Posovsky adopted Cassidy from a New York City shelter in 2005, he was already missing his hind leg. 

In my opinion, this is what I would consider “acceptable” application of technology to save a best friend. Let’s face it: pet owners, especially dog owners, consider their pets as family. If your family member had his leg blown off in a war, you would want to get them a prosthetic leg so they can walk normally and function properly.

In the days before I owned any dogs, I thought giving them good and water was good enough. Anything beyond that, I thought, was too extravagant. In fact, I was quick to judge pet owners whose pets wore shirts or some other ornaments as “idiots who’re wasting their money on beasts rather than animals”.  Of course, I became on of those idiots but I would say that I’m rather strict when it comes to spoiling my dogs. While they are who I consider part of my “family”, my service to mankind takes higher priority.

Yet, I read about a couple who spent $155,000 dollars to clone their dog:

The miracle of life made an encore for Edgar and Nina Otto. A year after their beloved yellow Labrador retriever, Lancelot, died of cancer, the Florida couple welcomed a cloned copy into their home Tuesday. They’ve dubbed their doggie double “Lancelot Encore.”

… they learned the Northern California biotech firm BioArts International was holding a dog-cloning auction. They threw their hat in the ring, and won.

The cloning didn’t come cheap — the Ottos shelled out $155,000 for the opportunity. But it worked. BioArts partnered with Dr. Hwang S Woo-Suk, of the South Korea biotech research firm Sooam, to bring a second Lancelot into the Otto household.

There’s two sides of me when I read something like this –

My practical human side – You can feed 370 starving kids in third world countries for a YEAR if you enrolled in $35/month sponsor-a-child program at WorldVision. What kind of idiot would choose to replicate the life of an ANIMAL over saving lives of HUMAN CHILDREN? 


My pet owner side – If my dogs died, I would be devastated. I would probably cry quite a while and do some reminisciing. I would see if I can find similar looking dogs to replace them. The starving kids in other countries, well, are sad. But my dogs bring me joy, and these kids are just faces to me. 

Would I personally pay to clone my dog? Not if it costs that much because the opportunity cost is too high? What if it’s free? Still, I wouldn’t. While I do realize that God gave us humans the knowledge and the power to unlock some of the mysteries of life and to apply it to our advantage, my dogs were designed unique. There is no way a dog can be “cloned” to the exact same degree (ex. memory, personality), and neither can my experience  be “cloned”.  Life is about gaining more experiences and expanding horizons. Cloning to me, is a step BACK in life progress.

In fact, DogSter has a poll out asking dog owners if they would clone their dogs if they had the chance. 80% replied no (“unethical” and “my dog is unique” are the primary answers).

I know all this talk is applying human ethics and morals to pets, but of course at the same time, pets are our friends and family. But I wonder, where do we draw the line?

I guess that would depend on whose answering the question.

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