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L.A. gets five cloned puppies with quite a history [Updated]


Even in the sometimes bizarre world of novelty animal cloning, this case is expected to generate debate and curiosity.

The Northern California cloning firm BioArts International is holding a news conference today to announce that it has cloned a dog that helped searched for victims in the rubble of New York's World Trade Center after 9/11. A retired Canadian police officer, who now lives in Los Angeles, won a contest sponsored by BioArts explaining why his rescue dog, Trakr, should be cloned. He was presented with the five cloned puppies a few days ago.

"Once in a lifetime, a dog comes along that not only captures the hearts of all he touches but also plays a private role in history," the retired officer, James Symington, wrote in his contest submission.

BioArts said in a statement that it partnered with South Korean cloning specialist Hwang Woo-Suk to clone the German shepherd. Woo-Suk is a controversial cloning pioneer who has been accused of faking human cloning evidence.

In a statement released by BioArts, Symington said meeting the new dogs was an emotional experience: "They're identical -- down to the smallest detail. Few dogs are born with exceptional abilities -- Trakr was one of those dogs. And if these puppies have the same attributes as Trakr, I plan on putting them into search and rescue so they can help people the way Trakr did."

More will be revealed during a news conference later today.

[Updated at 7:50 a.m.: The debate is already beginning. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals notes its concerns about pet cloning: "Our current knowledge of animal cloning indicates that there are important welfare concerns at issue. Reports on the health and condition of mammalian animals produced by cloning have indicated a variety of anatomical and physiological problems."]

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: James Symington with his German shepherds. Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (4)

If the puppies are "identical -- down to the smallest detail," why do some of them have white on their chest?

Something to, perhaps, fix: In the update, you write that "The American Society for the Cruelty of Animals notes its concerns..." but, I'm pretty sure there's no legitimate organization devoted to promoting cruelty by animals.

Great. All we need in LA is Cujo on the loose. Thanks America, you are the best.

This experiment will likely be a cruel disservice to these puppies. They are the result not of the union of two `fresh' haploid cells (recently-released eggs, and recently-produced sperm), but of aged diploid cells taken from the subject dog who / that is at least 9 years old.

As a result, the puppies are composed of cells with chromosomes that are already "middle-aged"; if Dolly the Sheep was any indication, these puppies will lead shortened lives, wracked with age-related disabilities well before their times.


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