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Gene Firm Closing Up Cat Copy Shop

Few pet owners hired Genetic Saving & Clone to produce high-priced facsimilies.

October 12, 2006|From the Associated Press

There's a limit to how far even the most devoted pet lovers will go to have their favorite feline or canine for life.

Genetic Savings & Clone, a Sausalito, Calif., biotechnology company that sold cloned pets, sent letters to its customers last month informing them it will close at the end of the year because of meager demand for costly cloned cats. The company had recently reduced the price from $50,000 to $32,000. The company also failed in its attempts to clone pet dogs.

The letters said the firm had stopped accepting orders because it was "unable to develop the technology to the point that cloning pets is commercially viable."

The company was launched by billionaire University of Phoenix founder John Sperling, who had hoped to have his hunting dog, Missy, cloned -- a feat that was never accomplished.

Since the company opened for business in 2000, it was behind the creation of five cloned cats but sold only two to paying customers.

The venture probably failed because reproductive cycles of pets are too unpredictable for consistent and inexpensive cloning, said Bonnie Beaver, a Texas A&M professor and past president of the American Veterinary Medical Assn.

The first commercially cloned cat was named Little Nicky and was delivered to a Texas woman who was saddened by the loss of a cat she had owned for 17 years.

Aside from human cloning, which has not been achieved even at the microscopic embryo stage, no cloning project has fueled more debate than the marketing plans of Genetic S&C.

Animal rights activists complained that new feline production systems weren't needed because thousands of stray cats were euthanized each year for want of homes.

"It's no surprise the demand for cloned pets is basically nonexistent, and we're very pleased that Genetic Savings & Clone's attempt to run a cloning pet store was a spectacular flop," said Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States. "It's not just a bad business venture but also an operation grounded on the misuse of animals."

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