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German shepherd puppies, cloned from hero 9/11 search and rescue dog, come to L.A.


Last June, we told you about one of the strangest essay contests we've heard of yet.  BioArts International, the California-based company known for selling the cloned copies of the dogs of deep-pocketed owners, famously cloned a much-loved Labrador retriever named Lancelot for the low, low price of $155,000.  (The cloned puppy was dubbed "Lancelot Encore," and his human family, Edgar and Nina Otto, could afford it -- Edgar is the son of one of the founders of NASCAR.)  But not everyone can afford that price tag, and so BioArts announced its Golden Clone Giveaway, through which one winner would be chosen to have their dog cloned free of charge.

The contest winner, it turns out, is James Symington, a retired Canadian police officer who now lives in Los Angeles.  Symington wrote movingly about his dog Trakr, a German shepherd who participated in search-and-rescue efforts at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of 9/11.  (Symington and Trakr eventually located the last survivor found after the attacks.) 

"Once in a lifetime, a dog comes along that not only captures the hearts of all he touches but also plays a pivotal role in history," began Symington's essay about Trakr, who died at age 16 in April.  In the years before his death, the dog had lost the use of his rear legs due to a degenerative neurological disorder that some experts believe was related to exposure to toxic smoke at Ground Zero.

Trakr's story "blew us away," BioArts CEO Lou Hawthorne said of the contest's selection process.  "His many remarkable capabilities were proven beyond all doubt in our nation's darkest hour -- and we view the work of cloning him as a great honor."  A few days ago, Symington was presented with five cloned mini-Trakrs. 

Our colleague Shelby Grad has the details on the L.A. Now blog:

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."

Although Symington is clearly overjoyed about his five Trakr copies, L.A. Now notes that many animal lovers don't share his enthusiasm.  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals issued a statement on the controversial practice of animal 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." 

BioArts doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon, so the debate is sure to continue. 

-- Lindsay Barnett

Top photo: Symington (left) holds five clones of Trakr as BioArts CEO Lou Hawthorne looks on.  Credit: PRNewsFoto

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hi thr.
i like dogs but the most one which i like that is
german sheepered it's very excellent and it seems very nice as well and one thing more that they are extra faithful there is no else dog which can be compare with them..........


I am not necessarily a proponent of "Wholesale Cloning" of pets however in a case of a dog like Tracker I would be all for it. Tracker was not just a pet but a working dog that did a lot of good for a lot of people. These type os animals put their lives on the line for humans every day. Tragically these dogs don't live long enough. Either they are killen in the line of duty or they grow old too fast. Many breeds have been "overbread" irresponsibility. When you are able to find an animal with good breeding and few heriditary problems it would be great to be able to clone them. On average I think it costs $16K to $20K to have a dog for their life expectancy. If you were able to clone an animal with little or no medical problems it could possibly bring down the cost of owining a pet.

This is just a little too cute. If you look up this story on CNN there is video where at the end Symington (who is not a biologist) talks about Trackr's "female genetic double" indicating that the original Trackr was a male, and that something was done in the cloning to diverge the dogs sexually. Not only are they cloned but somehow turned into two sexes.

I understand that corporations have their "secret methods" but it would be child's play to find five purebred German shepherd litter mates which look like the unremembered puppy version of Trackr. Who cares if they look like him when they mature? You'll have them trained and love them when they are grown.

This is like substituting a dead goldfish. Child's play. Plus, the puppies will have none of the genetic problems of a real clone and will be able to function normally.

This is one of the most saddening days for me.

I am closely affiliated with several dog rescue organizations here in B.C Canada.

Puppies are drowned in the lakes...........we try to save them
Mama dogs are being shot in their bellies while carrying pups........we try to save them....

Humans torture them while they are CHAINED to the iron chains........we try to save them......

Puppies and dogs are thrown off trucks..........broken hips and bleeding chests..........we try to save them.

When we are done with the intial rescue and nursing, we frantically look for foster homes or forever loving adopting homes.


maybe you would like to help us to raise some funds so we can spay the female( $100.00 CN) and neuter the male $80.00

Thank you



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