When Peanut died unexpectedly last year at the age of 10, Denise Westervelt was devastated by the loss of her chihuahua. So she had him cloned.
"He was like my soulmate," Westervelt said. "I had such a bond with him. If he could have lived forever, it would have been great. I couldn't bear to get another dog."
Pets have become part of the family. Americans spent $69.4 billion on their pets last year, according to the American Pet Products Association. A recent survey from Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Mortgage said that one-third of millennials were buying homes because they had dogs, more than the number doing so as a result of marriage of having children.
Couple that with replicating technology, and there's more demand from pet owners for the cloning of their beloved dogs and cats.
Westervelt turned to Viagen Pets, a division of Trans Ova Genetics, to bring a little bit of Peanut back into her home. For $50,000, plus the costs of genetic material collection and storage fees, Westervelt is now the dog parent of two genetically identical versions of her original chihuahua.
"They even sound the same way when they bark, exactly the same back when he was a puppy," said Westervelt, who lives near Poughkeepsie, New York. She's yet to give them a name.