What Stiff did for the dead and Fast Food Nation did for the burger, Dog, Inc. does for the stranger-than-fiction world of commercial dog cloning.
It all began with a pit bull named Booger. Former Miss Wyoming Bernann McKinney was so distraught over the death of her dog, whom she regarded as her guardian and savior, that she paid $50,000 to RNL Bio for the chance to bring her beloved companion back to life. The result were five new Boogers-the first successful commercial cloning of a canine- delivered in 2008, along with a slew of compelling questions about the boundaries of science, commerce, and ethics. Blending shocking investigative reporting with colorful anecdotes, Pulitzer Prize-winning John Woestendiek takes readers behind the scenes of this emerging industry.
But Dog, Inc. isn't just a book about pets. Nor is it just a book about science. Rather it's a fascinating look at how our emotional needs are bending the reaches of science and technology, as well as a study of this uncharted territory. With our pet obsession climbing to new heights and our scientific abilities even more so, this combination raises a serious concern: Are we crossing the boundary of controlling science in the name of science, in the name of love, in the name of merchandising-or a blend of all three?
Investigative reporter Woestendiek weaves together bizarrely interesting tales of rich pet owners, Korean and American scientists, ethics, and a petting zoo full of loved animals (including dogs, cats, and a Brahman bull). As readers follow the journeys of pet owners who sought to replace their companion animals with a new but genetically identical generation, they will meet a former beauty queen and kidnapping suspect who defied court custody orders and took her children around the world in order to keep them, and a pair of Korean scientists who finally succeeded in producing the first cloned dogs alongside serious allegations of scientific fraud. Woestendiek turns complex genetics into an interesting study for the layperson in a book that provides scientific background, technology update, and shock value all in one. From explaining the X-inactivation that foiled the results of the first cloned cat to relaying the story of Booger, a stray dog that learned to provide service to his injured mistress, Woestendiek educates as he entertains. Though this effort will particularly interest readers on both sides of the cloning issue, Woestendiek's conversational prose, added to the sometimes astonishing circumstances he uncovered, will entertain a wide audience.