Magazine article USA TODAY

Can We Re-Create Dead Pets?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Can We Re-Create Dead Pets?

Article excerpt

Your pet may be gone, but perhaps not for long. Paul Asmus, developer of Geneti-Pet, Port Townsend, Wash., has begun cryogenically freezing and storing blood samples of household pets in anticipation of the day when genetic technology may enable deceased animals to be replicated. The genetic engineering process would allow an owner to raise an identical animal, complete with the same physical traits and temperament, all over again. Collectively, genes constitute the full se of chemical "instructions" for creating an animal.

Asmus, who developed the idea from ongoing scientific experiments to save endangered animal species, says his company is being inundated with inquiries from pet owners. "They love the idea." For $75, he sends a kit to the owner, who has a veterinarian withdraw a small amount of blood from the animal that is returned via express mail to Geneti-Pet's laboratory. There, Asmus immerses the plastic vial into a cryogenic cylinder, utilizing liquid nitrogen to freeze the blood to 196[degrees C, where it can be kept indefinitely. For the hope of one day reproducing the pet--Asmus estimates 10 years or less--customers pay an annual fee of $200.

Geneti-Pet will not re-create animals. The company stores their blood until geneticists can find the key to re-creation, which many believe is imminent. "DNA research is heading to where humans will be able to create almost anything once we completely understand the process. And it's literally happening right now. Hardly a day goes by when science doesn't discover another piece of the puzzle. …

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