Most dog owners treat their pups like they’re part of the family. While this feeling is understandable, it can also lead some people to go a little overboard when it comes to their pets. Oddly enough, megastar Barbra Streisand might be proof that it is possible to love your dog too much.
Over the years, she’s never shied away from raving about her beloved dog, a Coton du Tulear named Samantha. In fact, she liked her dog so much that she recently brought home two more dogs that were practically identical to Sam. But when Streisand revealed the truth about why they look so similar, people realized she might have gone too far…
We all know what it’s like to feel as though our pets are a part of the family. Yet, there’s a fine line between being a doting pet owner and going, well… overboard. Strangely, Barbra Streisand might be the best evidence that some people go too far with their pets.
Streisand’s dog, a sweet 14-year-old Coton du Tulear named Samantha, was a shaggy, white-haired pup who had long been a mainstay in the megastar’s life and on her social media feeds.
Sadly, in 2017, Samantha passed away. As is the case when anyone loses their beloved pet, this devastated Streisand. “It was like losing a child,” she recalled. Obviously, she would do practically anything to get her puppy back—if only she could.
Eventually, she decided it was time to welcome some new dogs into her home. Yet her social media followers began noticing something strange about these new dogs: they all looked exactly the same. Like… exactly.
Turns out, they weren’t wrong about the similarities. As Streisand revealed in an interview with Variety, she’d become so attached to her pup during the 14 years they shared together that she chose to do something most would only joke about: she cloned her!
The result was two identical dogs named Miss Violet and Miss Scarlet, who were brought into this world in late 2017. While they were mirror images of Samantha physically, there were a few differences…
“They have different personalities,” Streisand explained to reporters when news of the cloning first broke. “I’m waiting for them to get older so I can see if they have [Samantha’s] brown eyes and seriousness.”
Genetically, Miss Violet and Miss Scarlet were pretty much twins. In fact, they looked so similar that Streisand dressed them in different clothing—one in lavender and the other in red, hence their names—in order to tell them apart.
There was also a third dog—Miss Fanny—whose name referenced the Academy-Award winning actress’s role as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. While not a clone herself, she was a distant cousin of Samantha’s.
While cloning an animal might seem like something only possible in a science fiction movie, it’s actually a practice that’s been around for the past 20 years. The first known animal to be cloned was Dolly the sheep in 1996.
Dolly might have been the first cloned animal, but she wasn’t the only one. Almost 10 years later—in 2005—a team of scientists at Seoul National University in South Korea cloned the first dog, an Afghan hound named Snuppy.
Then in 2016, Nubia, a Jack Russell terrier, became the first dog to be cloned in the United States by the Texas-based company ViaGen. Of course, this opened the doors for people like Streisand to have their beloved dogs cloned.
Regardless of success rates, cloning a dog is a rather expensive procedure. It makes sense that you only really hear of the wealthiest people doing it. So, how much did cloning Samantha set Streisand back?
In recent years, Sooam Biotech Research Foundation—the South Korean laboratory responsible for successfully cloning upwards of 600 dogs since 2006—charged interested customers a whopping $100,000 to clone their pooches!
As of now, ViaGen charges $50,000 for dogs and $25,000 for cats, and it’s still the only company in the United States that clones pets. This was how Streisand was able to bring Samantha back into the world.
Cloning animals will likely become more affordable in the future. Still, some people are opposed to the practice for clear ethical reasons. For instance, author John Woestendiek, who wrote the book Dog, Inc., hopes to stop it before it’s too late.
Chief among his concerns was that there were plenty of dogs in the world who didn’t have homes. “One is the sort of philosophical question of whether we really need new ways to make dogs when so many are already being put down in shelters,” he explained.
Another concern was that it would take multiple animals—more than 12 separate dogs in heat—to harvest enough egg cells in order to clone just one. Once the cells were collected, they would be implanted into a surrogate, who would then carry the pregnancy.
In the meantime, celebrities and others who can afford it will likely continue to clone their pets, especially when they reach their twilight years. It’s simply their way of dealing with such a devastating loss.
And as for Streisand? She seemed content with her choice. Still, since the dogs hadn’t turned out to be exactly like her beloved Samantha, she likely had to learn that there were no guarantees when it came to dogs—even if they were clones.
There are certainly two sides to the debate on cloning animals. On one hand, it seems unethical, while on the other, it makes grieving the loss of a beloved pet a little easier. What would you do?
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