There are few things that can break the heart of a pet owner more than the loss of that pet. We consider these precious animals to be members of our family.
The grief is real and intense when one of them passes away. The sorrow that comes with the loss can be unbearable. And it continues as the routines of our life change once that beloved pet is gone.
In those moments, we all wish that our pet would return to us. We long to see their smiling faces and wagging tails. But, alas, we know that is not possible. Or is it?
A Florida couple, Nina and Edgar Otto, lost their beloved Yellow Labrador to cancer. They wanted to do all they could to ensure that she would remain more than a memory in their hearts. So, they decided to do something quite controversial.
Some people may praise them for this. Others will call them crazy. And still, others will call them unethical. What did the Ottos do?
They spent more than $150,000 to have their Labrador, Sir Lancelot, cloned. They had even planned ahead for this, obtaining and saving his DNA before he passed.
A San Francisco company called BioArts International partnered with the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in South Korea to clone Sir Lancelot. The Ottos became connected with BioArts through a dog-cloning auction.
The cloned dog was created after DNA from Sir Lancelot was injected into the eggs of another dog. The result is an exact genetic clone of Sir Lancelot aptly named Lancelot Encore.
After Lancelot Encore was born, he stayed with his birth mother until he was old enough to leave her side. Then he was flown from South Korea to Miami, Florida where he first met the Otto family.
“He looked just like my original Lancelot, so I was thrilled,” Nina Otto said. “I had been getting updates and pictures over the past 10 weeks, but the real thing is what I wanted to see.”
Edgar Otto told the Today Show’s Al Roker that Lancelot Encore fit in quickly and easily with their other nine dogs on a sprawling 12-acre lot in West Boca, Florida. The couple also cares for four birds, ten cats, and six sheep.
“This morning, when the pack runs from the bedroom into the kitchen, he led the pack, which the old Lancelot did,” Otto said. “This is a puppy, 10 weeks old, and he led the pack!” Nina Otto added that “he bonded immediately, within an hour, with every other pet in the house.”
Not surprisingly, as news of the Ottos activities spread, many people spoke out against what they had done. Opponents of animal cloning and animal rights activists vehemently oppose the practice arguing that it is unethical.
They also argue that the money spent on cloning Sir Lancelot would have been better spent adopting a homeless dog and donating to animal shelters.
Dr. Sara Pizano of the Miami-Dade County animal services department said that the amount of money the Ottos spent for Sir Lancelot’s clone could cover the agency’s spay and neuter costs for six months.
Otto argued that he does make significant donations to the local Humane Society and that he plans to adopt their next dog from a shelter if they decide to get another one.
Others, however, argue that the money belonged to the Ottos and they had the right to spend it in any way they wish, as long as that is done legally.
Roker asked Edgar Otto to respond to critics who claim it may be “kooky” to spend so much money to clone their dog.
Otto responded that money was not an issue for his family since his father was a co-founder of NASCAR and that he had started his own successful medical company. Even still, Otto did admit that his wife sold some of her jewelry to help pay for the creation of Lancelot Encore.
“I can always have jewelry,” Nina Otto said. She added that she would make the same decision again today if she had to do it over again.
“We have gotten some negative feedback from people on the price,” Edgar Otto said. “But we feel it is worth it.”
Check out the photos here and see if you can determine which dog is Sir Lancelot and which one is Lancelot Encore. And tell us what you think. Is this the ultimate sign of unending love for a beloved lost pet or is it morally and ethically wrong?