KTLA, a Los Angeles TV station that is connected with the Los Angeles Times, came up with a fun feature last week: the touching tale of a Hollywood businessman who loved his little dogs Wolfie and Bubble so much that he founded a company to raise the $310,000 to have them cloned.
The video makes it clear that the cloning would be done by RNL Bio in South Korea, but it's vague about Peter Onruang, the businessman. The named company is HollywoodPaintball.com, which seems a little insubstantial to generate that much cash, but the video mentions "another company" and it seems there are several: AsianWolf, vehicle security; Wolfcom Innovations, which provides "innovative solutions for police, military and private investigators"; Hollywood Spy Shop, which installs security cameras and the like; Lawmate USA, another surveillance systems company; CCTVAuction.com, listed as an affiliate; and perhaps more.
Wolfcom Enterprises (his is the first name listed of "Wolfcom's Collective") runs Jeunesse, based in L.A. and Bangkok, which claims to use stem cell technology (though its Luminesce "contains no Actual Stems cells, No human tissue") to make "smoother younger skin." Oh, and there is a "once in a lifetime opportunity to create long term wealth" by becoming a distributor: meet at Denny's in Rosemead every Tuesday. (Perhaps not coincidentally, RNL Bio has been in the skin-cream business, too.) Googling around also turns up an apparent 2009 effort to market the "Magicjack telephone gizmo" in Bangkok.
Naturally, when Onruang decided to have his dogs cloned, he started yet another website: My Friend Again. (If the name sounds familiar, you may be thinking of one of Lou Hawthorne's efforts, Best Friends Again.) This one is "100% free" and encourages people to contact Viagen for a biopsy kit and instructions about storing cells. The 800 number is the same as that for Wolfcom Enterprises, but a different extension.
Dog cloning is a terrible idea. The Humane Society of the United States and the American Anti-Vivisection Society issued a report in 2008, Buyers Beware: Pet Cloning Is Not for Pet Lovers [pdf]. Since then, the primary publicist for this failed business has quit, for a variety of practical and ethical reasons. The remaining commercial pet cloner, RNL Bio, has been hit by scandal involving unauthorized stem cell treatments, and seems most interested in using dogs for research on human diseases.
None of this is to say that Onruang is not genuine in his affection for the dogs, one of which seems to be shown in the promo video for Hollywood Paintball. Wolfie died two years ago, and clones (all to be called Wolfie, according to KTLA, rather like George Foreman's sons) are due in six months, with clones of Bubble, who died in 2007, to follow. He would love them "to be reincarnated" but is aware that they may be different. And, yes, he'd love to clone himself:
"If I had an opportunity to clone myself, I'd do it right now," Onruang says. "Because it's me... I'm raising myself. I already know exactly my strengths and weaknesses. This person is gonna be the new and improved me, and would live the life I've always wanted to live."
Let's just say that he fits right in to the cloning circus.
Previously on Biopolitical Times:
Posted in Animal Technologies, Biotech & Pharma, Media Coverage, Pete Shanks's Blog Posts
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