Ethical justification generally cannot be claimed for doing something simply because ‘it might be possible.’ Ethics poses the question, just because it can be done, should it be done?
To date, only one corporation is actively selling cloned cats and other companies that promote pet cloning (but have yet to offer it) exist only because they apparently have sufficient financial backing from individuals who want to create a pet cloning market.
Thus far, the pet cloning industry does not conduct research with the goal of improving human or veterinary medicine; it is strictly an entrepreneurial venture that involves experimenting with cats and dogs in unregulated labs to sell tissue storage and perhaps, cloned pets for up to $50,000 each.
The issue of cloning animals usually arises in the context of the dangers of human cloning. Indeed, there has been little, if any, public debate regarding this new industry and the genetic manipulation of animals. However, when engaged on the issue,
“It's a multibillion-dollar business waiting to happen. We have a money-back guarantee…”
(Genetic Savings & Clone CEO Lou Hawthorne, CBS Evening News, 9/8/04.)
the public is largely opposed to pet cloning on ethical grounds. According to an independent national survey commissioned by the American Anti-Vivisection Society, 80 percent of people in the U.S. are opposed to cloning companion animals such as cats and dogs, and 84 percent feel that companies should not be allowed to sell genetically engineered animals as pets.
These results echo those of other national surveys.
See also: Resources
At the 2004 annual convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Autumn Fiester, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist, noted, “This odd neglect [of public discussion and consideration] of the ethics of animal cloning may have serious repercussions for animals and human beings alike.”
Many people are opposed to pet cloning because it is unnatural and does not serve to benefit humankind. In some cases, religious leaders may support certain animal experiments, but pet cloning is seen as a frivolous venture with no societal benefit that results in grave consequences for the animals involved. The Church of Scotland’s Science, Religion, and Technology Project states, “…cloning a pet ranks as an essentially cosmetic application which is not morally justified. Just because someone is rich enough to pay does not make it morally justified, and indeed suggests a trivialisation of embryo science in diverting skills and knowledge away from meeting serious ethical needs on to something that for many would represent an excessive commodification of the animal.”
See also: Animal Welfare
and Consumer Fraud
Opinion Research Corporation. 2004. Summary of Survey Findings Prepared for American Anti-Vivisection Society
Gallup Organization. 2002. Cloning Survey
Fox News. 2002. Poll: Send in the Clones?
Fiester, A. 2004. Ethical Issues in Pet Cloning. AVMA 2004 Convention Notes (7/24/04)
. 2004 American Veterinary Medical Association Annual Convention.
Church of Scotland. 2002. Animal Welfare and Pet Cloning Ethics. Society, Religion, and Technology Project