DNA is in all of us, including your beloved pets. So what would you say if we told you that there was now a way to be able to always have a piece of your pet(s) with you, while they are both alive and once they go to heaven, in the form of a stylish pendant necklace or other items with your pet’s DNA cloned inside it in liquid form?! Pretty neat eh?!
Well, that is now a possibility thanks to Ryan Lehto and his team of scientists at DNA Memorial based in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Ryan, who first started his company called Celebrity Gene (celebritygene.com) by extracting the DNA from iconic celebs for fans, has now opened a pet DNA company (dnamemorial.com) so that family members can always keep their pets close by (and also track their pet through DNA if they ever get lost).
We just had to find out more, so we sat down with Mr. Lehto to discuss…
AW: Explain to us why you love animals in general?
RL: I’ve always been fascinated with nature from an early age. Watching ants as a child construct elaborate castles to how salmon could navigate thousands of miles back to their birthplaces. I belive animals are far more intelligent than most people believe.
AW: Do you have any pets?
RL: I’ve actually had a whole range of pets. My first pet as a child was our family dog which was actually a half wolf/ half husky hybrid. Then throughout my life I have had a savannah monitor called Razor, a Royal Python called Felix, several goldfish all named Earl (my parents kept replacing the same fish) and three of my favorite breed of dog Boxer. Jasmine, Rocky and now my current dog Dante. My grandfather also had a farm where there were chicken goats and draft horses which my grandfather used to do the haying. Each animal had something unique about them. Overall I think dogs are really mans best friend.
AW: Tell us more about PET DNA MEMORIAL, and explain why more and more people are coming to you to save the DNA from their beloved pets!
RL: Well losing a pet is definitely like losing any other family member. Their lives are so short and a typical pet lover is likely to have to endure the process several times in our own lifespan. Having everything that made that pet unique preserved and close to you really helps me keep that connection. Some people hope to clone their pet in the future. Myself that’s not for me even though the DNA we extract and preserve could be used for that purpose. Breeders, Zoos, Farms and endangered animal organizations are also starting to preserve the DNA to track species and ultimately preserve the blueprint.
AW: Are your services just for pets that have passed away, or alive ones too?
RL: Even though its called Pet DNA Memorial many of our customers are actually organizations or breeders who are saving a genetic record of linage. It is called Pet DNA Memorial because of our brand DNA Memorial which lets people who lose a family member preserve their own Genetic medical history and ancestry. It started when we started receiving requests from people to offer the DNA Memorial service for their pets but since then it has grown well beyond the deceased pet market.
AW: If you could come back in your next life as one animal, what would it be and why?
RL: I think I would like to come back as a saber tooth tiger. They were rulers of the roost with no natural predators and look very very cool.
AW: You also own Celebrity Gene, where you take DNA from celebs and place it into neat items for people to have. Have you worked with any famous celebrity pets yet or on-screen animal stars?
RL: No we haven’t worked with any animal celebrities but are now looking at some hair samples from a few race horses. We are also trying to purchase a cave bear jaw and saber tooth tiger tooth to retrieve the DNA from. We are ancient DNA experts at CG Labs which is our research Lab. In the next year or so we hope to have those two for sale and looking for other artifacts we could get DNA from.
AW: Any other pet or animal-related items you wish to discuss or causes you support?
RL: I want to raise support for the next phase of Pet DNA Memorial. We are partnering up with a whole range of endangered animal causes to raise money, awareness and most importantly spread the genomes of the endangered animals to as many people as we can. A person would buy a pendant of say the Black Rhinos DNA and not only would the money raised help preserve the ones the person buying the pendant also helps act as a genetic reserve spreading the genetic blueprint to as many persons decentralizing the access to the genome and getting everyone involved in the actually preservation of the species. We will be launching a crowdfunding project called the ARC to kick this off.