Can friends be copied? Ethical aspects of cloning dogs as companion animals

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Since the first successful attempt to clone a dog in 2005, dogs have been cloned by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) for a variety of purposes. One of these is to clone dogs as companion animals. In this paper we discuss some of the ethical implications that cloning companion dogs through SCNT encompasses, specifically in relation to human–dog relationships, but also regarding animal welfare and animal integrity. We argue that insofar as we understand the relationship with our companion dogs as one of friendship, the meaningfulness of cloning a companion dog is seriously questionable. Cloning may both disrupt the uniqueness of the relationship, as the shared history underlying the relationship can neither be repeated nor copied, and it may violate the meaning we attribute to friendship, as the notion of singularity inherent in our understanding of friendship is incompatible with the replaceability embedded in the practice of cloning. We further argue that the application of cloning technology to companion dogs can be interpreted as a violation of the integrity of dogs on at least two accounts: negative welfare implications associated with the cloning process, and the instrumentalisation of the dog inherent in cloning.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)17-29
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2018

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