Too Good To Be True
In 2004 Allerca started offering its Lifestyle Pets, kitties and puppies, that the company claims did not cause allergies because the animal were bred either not to express allergy-causing antigens, or to express them at extremely low levels. The animals could be purchased for prices ranging from $6,950 for an Allerca GD cat, an Allerca Ashera GD cat at $26,950, or a Jabari GD dog at $15,950.
But the company supplied no information about the process behind the pets except what is available on its website, nor does much in the way of scientific provenance exist. According to Allerca, it had “spent much time and energy in achieving its final goal of delivering consistently hypoallergenic cats to our customers, and therefore our protocols and procedures remain proprietary and confidential.”
According to Simon Brodie, president of Allerca, in a 2004 interview with WebMD, “Many people think they’re allergic to cat hair or dander, but they’re really allergic to the protein. And the nice thing about this [Allerca’s breeding] process, it doesn’t completely suppress the protein production. If the cat still needs this protein, it’s still expressing it, so it can produce the protein, but in such tiny amounts that it won’t cause problems.
“It’s like hypoallergenic makeup. The allergens are still there, but in very small amounts that don’t trigger allergic reactions.”
A British shorthair cat was chosen for the first line of hypoallergenic cats, and every kitten is sold pre-spayed and neutered. “We don’t want our cat to breed with a nonhypoallergenic cat and [have] someone attempt to sell the kittens as hypoallergenic,” said Brodie.
“That’s like buying a knockoff Gucci purse that hurts someone’s health,” he told WebMD.
But, would you buy a pet, much less a knockoff Gucci bag, from a guy like Simon Brodie, alias Simon Campbell? The Scientist magazine, after Allerca cancelled several interviews conducted its own investigation in 2009, and found highly favorable testimonials posted on the company website from customers who claim to have received hypoallergenic pets. The publication also found several disappointed customers who were essentially told that they were “too allergic” to receive Allerca cats.
Later that year, the company announced on its website shortly thereafter that effective January 1, 2010, it would “focus exclusively on developing its animal genetic technologies” and would “NO LONGER offer our hypoallergenic pets for sale.”
Mr. Brodie/Campbell’s history would suggest that buying anything from him probably would be ill-advised. Among his other enterprises was Geneticas, which claimed it would provide customers an allergy-free cat based on RNAi and had already accepted hundreds of nonrefundable $250 deposits. Geneticas also predicted it could bring the cost of cloning a cat below $10,000. The cats never came and Geneticas disappeared, The Scientist reported in its article, “Felix Enigmaticus”.