Cloning Man's Best Friend: How Far Would You Go to Keep Fido?

Lou Hawthorne cloned his dog and is giving the public a chance to do it too.

ByABC News via logo
May 20, 2008, 3:37 PM

May 21, 2008 — -- When Mira, husky and border collie mix, was born six months ago, she didn't just look like her biological mother. She was an exact copy even down to her personality, according to owner Lou Hawthorne.

That's because Mira was cloned from her mother, Missy.

"This is just an alternative way of initiating life. And after that, it's life as we have known it and do know it," said Hawthorne, CEO of BioArts International, the company that cloned the dog, on "Good Morning America" in a broadcast exclusive.

It is only the second time a dog has been cloned and the first time a U.S. company has done it. BioArts International, which plans to publish its research in scientific journals, sits on the cutting edge of science, in part because it's opening the door to commercial cloning.

The feat represents a chance for dog owners to keep their best friends around indefinitely in an unconventional way an interesting proposition for those who view their pets as an integral family member and never want to part with them.

Hawthorne has spent more than $20 million and 10 years in pursuit of dog cloning. Missy, Hawthorne's family dog who died in 2002 at age 15, has been the subject of extensive cloning research since the Missyplicity Project began in 1997.

Now Hawthorne's startup, BioArts International, is offering pet owners the opportunity to replicate their prized dogs. The company is taking bids for five cloned dogs. The auction, part of a program Hawthorne calls Best Friends Again, will end June 18. The top five bidders will win the chance to clone the dog of their choice.

The idea is pleasing to people like Cindy Blom, who said she would consider cloning her dog, Perry Como.

"He's the right size. He's very handsome and he has a great personality. It's hard to get all that in one package," she said of her beloved pet.

Those types of sentiments are part of what BioArts International seized upon when it considered the idea of entering the dog cloning business. Though the company still isn't committed totally to cloning dogs as a full-time service, the auction will serve as an indicator of how much people are interested in the idea and the price people are willing to pay for a cloned pet.