PHOENIX – Cloning sounds very much like science fiction, but it is actually becoming pretty popular when it comes to prolonging A pet’s legacy.
One Phoenix man knew he never wanted to part from his mixed-breed Jack Russell Terrier, so he decided to get her cloned, and Rich Hazelwood is believed to be the first person in Arizona to have done it.
Hazelwood is the owner of Phoenix’s Celebrity Theater, and whether it is in his office or on stage, his dogs are always with him. The dogs are not so different from their mom, named Jackie-O.
“She enjoyed being on stage and being around people,” said Hazelwood.
Jackie-O had plenty of pictures with big-name musicians, like Bret Michaels, Heart, and even Cheech and Chong.
“She bit Chong’s son when we had a show. He was kind of mad,” said Hazelwood.
For all of these moments and the special bond that Hazelwood and Jackie-O had, he knew he needed to come up with a plan as she was getting older.
“I could not replace this dog,” said Hazelwood. “This was a fabulous dog. She was unbelievable.”
After doing some research, Hazelwood decided to get her cloned. The price tag? $50,000.
“Some people said ‘Why would you spend $50,000 when there are all these dogs at the pound that need a home?'” Hazelwood said. “Maybe so, but I wanted my particular dog.”
He contacted Viagen Pets in Texas, where they specialize in cloning pets. The company can clone cats, horses and of course dogs. They say they can produce an identical twin to the animal.
“We take an unfertilized egg from the same species that we are cloning and remove the nucleus,” said Codi Lamb with Viagen. “So we are just interested in using the structure of the egg.”
After going through this process of science and a surrogate dog carrying the embryo and then giving birth, Hazelwood finally had his clone of Jackie-O. During the process, however, two clones of Jackie-O were created. Hazelwood ultimately decided to take both.
“They were everything that I had hoped for them to be,” said Hazelwood. “They were perfect.”
As for their personality and temperament, they weren’t a complete match.
“These girls got a lot of her exact tendencies, but not exactly her,” Hazelwood admits.
The new members of the family got to spend a few years with Jackie-O before she passed away. Now, Hazelwood has little Jackie-Os running around ro keep her memory alive even now.
“If you want an adventure in your life and you love your dog, cloning is not all bad,” Hazelwood said.
At Viagen, it costs $20,000 to clone a cat, $50,000 to clone a dog, and for a horse, $85,000.