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Home arrow Environment arrow Pets and People: The Ethics of Our Relationships with Companion Animals


  • 1. Notice I am not claiming that humans are necessarily trying to recreate the pet itself—they may recognize clearly that the cloned animal is not identical to its predecessor—but that humans are trying to recreate the relationship, which by virtue of its specificity cannot be reproduced.
  • 2. Note that somatic cells must be harvested while the animal is alive, so that they can be stored for later use after the animal has died. For more information on animal cloning, see National Human Genome Research Institute (2015).
  • 3. In his writing on his company’s pet cloning practice, Lou Hawthorne claims that they do not do egg retrieval processes on their female surrogates. As he claims, “Although we at GSC have spayed some dogs in estrus to obtain mature eggs for study, we do not routinely use egg donors, much less hormonally stimulate them. We obtain most of our eggs from spay clinics, which GSC underwrites financially. Our approach not only avoids use of egg donors but also improves the pet overpopulation problem” (2002a, 244).
  • 4. GSC’s first pet cloning venture involved the attempt to clone founder Lou Hawthorne’s dog, Missy, hence the name of the research program: the “Missyplicity Project.”
  • 5. I argue that this depth of feeling and attachment is not unidirectional, but is also reciprocated by companion animals. Accounts of pets that have found their way home from thousands of miles away, that have risked their lives to save their human companions, or that have showed grief over the deaths of their loved ones all suggest that dogs and cats are able to reciprocate in the human-nonhuman animal relationships. Whether this reciprocation is entirely equal may be debated, but not all human-to-human relationships are equally reciprocated, either, if one considers parents’ connections to their infants, toddlers, mentally disabled children, or elderly parents with dementia. See Eva Kittay (1999) for an excellent account of reciprocity in connection to relationships of care.
  • 6. One does not have to think long to come up with examples of such care and concern: the money humans spend on their pets to accessorize them, to offer them specialized health care, and to purchase high-quality food and treats is clear evidence of this special treatment.
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