A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Attack of the Clones

They say that you get what you paid for. Four years ago, Upper West Side New Yorker Gary Rintel paid $140,000 to have his collie/Great Pyrenees mix, Astro, cloned – twice.

Did the self-described trust-fund layabout get what he paid for? Did he get Astro back? Are the new dogs, Cosmo and Retro, both Astro? One of them? Neither?


Photo by Helayne Seidman

Clones are not the same dog as the original. They are, at best, like identical twins. And since none of us is purely the product of our genes, but of all our lives’ experience, clones, like identical twins, can have very different personalities.

Meanwhile, other dog people in Rintel’s neighborhood are barking mad. Not at the cloning part of it. But at the fact that Rintel allows the two clones to run free along the sidewalk and in Central Park and to bite other dogs and their people.

He’s already paid $2,000 in leash-law fines, and expects to shell out more. He says it’s a bad law and that people who use leashes don’t care about their dogs’ happiness.

Neighbors says the clones race down the street, chase other dogs into apartment buildings, and bite dogs and their people in Central Park. One man who says he and his puppy were attacked and bitten by the re-doubled Astro told the New York Post that Rintel eventually walked over and said “I’m sorry, my dogs have never done anything like that before,” and then walked away — with the dogs still off the leash.

So, did Gary Rintel get what he paid for?

Cloning is already a big and growing business – and one that involves much cruelty to animals. The surrogate mothers can suffer, and deformed babies are born and discarded.

His $140,000 could have done much good for dogs of all kinds. It could have paid for thousands of people who aren’t “trust fund layabouts” to have their pets fixed, and to have thousands of homeless pets cared for and placed in good homes – perhaps including his own.

Instead, he’s funding an industry that’s not just bad news for dogs and cats, but that fills the growing demand for such animals as genetically modified cows who can produce more milk, and millions of cloned mice with specialized diseases who are sought-after by the vivisection industry.

Nobody wants to lose a beloved pet. But who would want to inflict suffering on so many other animals in order to pretend to himself that he’s found the secret to immortality?

Only people like Gary Rintel.