LAS VEGAS (FOX5)-- They say every dog has its last day. Now, thanks to technology, that doesn’t have to be the case.
“This is Chase, Ripley’s mother,” Jordan Goldblatt said. “This is Kendall, Ripley’s grandmother.”
Ripley was a champion.
“She was just a really great dog,” Goldblatt said. Goldblatt trains champions. “Bought my first one in 1985.”
Her love for Dobermans goes beyond four paws and a wagging tail. Since then, she has raised, bred and kept a few Dobermans for herself. Goldblatt currently takes care of three. One of them is a clone.
Ripley died in 2012. Years before that, Jordan knew someday, she’d want to make a copy of her prize winner.
“I knew that she wasn’t going to be the same, but that she would be similar,” Goldblatt said.
“So we have to be very careful about the samples that we collect,” Dr. Jessica Hagstette said. Dr. Hagstette works at Camino Al Norte Animal Hospital in North Las Vegas.
Once only a scientific pipe-dream, she said cloning is becoming more popular among pet lovers and for working dogs like service dogs and military service dogs.
“People are really attached,” Dr. Hagstette said. “We put a lot of hope in our animals sometimes.”
Dr. Hagstette collected DNA from Goldblatt’s other dogs for possible cloning down the line.
“The inside of the thigh, the underneath of the belly, those are very common places to take samples,” she said. “Part of collecting some of the cells is as simple as rubbing a swab on the inside of her cheek.”
Once the DNA is collected, it’s sent to a lab. In this case, ViaGen Pets, based in Austin,Texas. The cells were frozen until the lab got the call from Goldblatt. ViaGen puts the DNA into an empty egg.
“The surrogacy is very interesting,” Dr. Hagstette said. “Ripley’s clone was put into a large breed dog. We didn’t get to meet the dog or know anything else about her.”
A few months later: “Ripley was a girl so her clone will be a female as well,” Dr. Hagstette said.
Ripley 2.0: Fendi is a red Doberman born September 7, 2018.
“There are a lot of personality traits that is very replicated in clones and their originals,” the veterinarian said. She added think of Fendi as Ripley’s identical twin, just born a few years later.
“She’s a little smaller - about an inch smaller, 10 pounds lighter,” Goldblatt said. “It’s fun. You can’t think that’s Ripley cause it’s not. She’s different. But in some ways, she’s the same.”
It costs $50,000 to clone a dog.
Veterinarians said it was double that price just a few years ago, so they think it won’t be long before cloning is more affordable.