DNA, what is it, why it’s important and why you need to know about it?
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in all organisms on earth. Nearly every cell has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA). The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). The order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences. In such a way everything’s story is written differently.
Why would I want to store my Pet’s DNA?
Immortalizing your companion! DNA Banking allows the genetics of your loved ones to live on forever – even after death. Ashes or other keepsakes have no intrinsic value but the DNA will preserve that essence of who they were in life. We prepare the sample to last indefinitely, and return it to you inside a stylish keepsake or a secure vial. Alternatively, you can choose to keep it in our facility. Everything that made your pet who they were is preserved. Their entire blueprint. The DNA stored is 100 percent viable and could be used for cloning As technology advances. Breeders, Zoos and farms may also preserve breeding linage as well as Banking endangered species DNA to help in conservation efforts.
How is the sample collected?
The sample is collected by completely non-invasive methods. A sterile cotton swab is rubbed on the inner cheek several times then allowed to air dry (skin, feathers or scales can also be used). This swab is then sealed and mailed back to our laboratory where we will extract (separate it from rest of the cell components), purify (remove any enzymes or chemicals that may damage it), stabilize it and preserve it to halt the degradation process. Using our proprietary method the DNA is bound very tightly to a substrate reinforcing its structure. The end product resembles a fine white dry powder.
Does the sample need to be collected from a cheek swab?
No, we can also extract the DNA from hair, feathers, skin, scales, or even bones collected. We do not use blood as infectious disease protocols make it difficult to ship and degradation happens quite quickly in blood cells. Also red blood cells have no nucleus so have no nuclear DNA so the white blood cells are the source of DNA in blood. If the animal was sick they may have reduced white blood cell count which can create challenges. Detailed instructions for all of our collection methods are included in each kit.
Is it still possible to retrieve DNA from my deceased pet after the sixty days have passed?
Yes. We can extract DNA from multiple sources. Toys, food dishes, clothing, bedding, or even droppings are viable sources of DNA. Please use the contact form on our contact us page to directly to discuss the potential sources of DNA.
How long will the DNA last? Will it eventually degrade?
Under our storage conditions, the DNA will last indefinitely. Not only do we extract and purify the sample, but our researched method of storage also stabilizes the molecule, holding it in place and halting the degradation process.
When DNA gets banked or put into a keepsake, what is involved in researching it further?
Whenever someone is ready to get some questions answered about what information is enclosed in the DNA, it can be sent away for further analysis. At Pet DNA Memorial, we can help with all the necessary steps. The analysis can be done right away or years later. Having the DNA stored gives anyone the option to get it researched further whenever they are ready for it. Prices for genetic testing as well as the options available continue to improve every year.
My vet or pet cremation home doesn’t offer this service. What do I do?
If the service provider doesn’t provide this service at the current time, ask them to contact us and we will send the collection kits to them or instruct them to place some scales, feathers, swabs or hair with the roots attached into a paper envelope. They need not be an official location to still access our services. A vet or funeral provider will usually charge a small fee. The collection process is very simple so it be done by anyone and need not be done at the vet office. We answer any questions, walk you through the process and deal with any concerns. The best method is to collect the DNA before the pet passes away.
I’m not in North America can I still use this service?
Order from website and we will send all the required items, paperwork and sampling kits. We are based in Canada but can service the global market anywhere as long as there is a reliable courier system.
How do I receive my sampling kit? How much do they cost?
To place an order for a sampling kit, please see our shopping page. Within Canada, the cost of shipping the kit is included in the listed price. If you purchased your DNA kit in a pet store or veterinarian office, make sure to fill out and mail back the proof of purchase found in the kit. This proof of purchase allows us to deduct the purchase price of the kit from the fee for the service you have selected. Each kit comes with all necessary swabs, gloves, and envelopes. Our kits will also contain easy to follow instructions on how to collect the sample. (Click here to download our DNA Memorial Sampling Instructions. It is in PDF format.)
My pet passed away and I can’t wait for a kit.
You don’t need to order our kits if time is of the essence. Download our order form and return to us along with the collected sample. Use Q tip cotton applicators that have been dipped in rubbing alcohol 70% and follow the instructions available to download. If you don’t have gloves wash your hands thoroughly and use Ziploc bags turned inside out for contamination protection. Place samples into paper envelopes not plastic bags. The sample will be able to dry and will prevent microbial growth while the cellulose from the paper won’t contaminate the sample. Place the envelope containing the samples along with the paperwork into another envelope seal and mail to our laboratory along with payment.
Alternately shedded skin, hair or fecal matter can be also be sent along in this manner. Approx. one teaspoon of fecal matter is sufficient. Fecal matter can be shipped in plastic because of sanitary concerns if not thoroughly dried.