A family dog that had been dead for nearly a fortnight was successfully cloned by a grieving family, and a new puppy has now been born to fill in his immortal shoes.
It remains to be seen if the new cloned puppy will have the same character as the original or retains any memories through his DNA.
The Guardian reports:
In the first case of its kind, the boxer puppy was cloned from the couple’s dead dog, Dylan, almost two weeks after it died. The previous limit for dog cloning was five days after death.
Laura Jacques, 29, and Richard Remde 43, from West Yorkshire, were grief stricken after their boxer died at the age of eight in June, having been diagnosed earlier this year with a brain tumour.
The pair decided to try to clone Dylan and enlisted the services of the controversialSooam Biotech Research Foundation, which offers a commercial dog-cloning service for $100,000 (£67,000) per procedure. It is the only laboratory of its kind in the world. They have hailed the birth as “a miracle”.
The male puppy has been named Chance, after a character in Jacques’ favourite film, Disney’s Homeward Bound. He is expected to be joined in three days’ time by a second cloned puppy – this one will be named Shadow after another character in the film.
Jacques said she and Remde were overwhelmed after witnessing the birth by caesarean section on Saturday in the operating theatre at Sooam.
“The whole thing just feels surreal,” she said. “I lost all sense of time. I have no idea how long everything took, the whole thing made me feel very disoriented. I was just clinging on to Richard for about an hour and a half after Chance was born.”
“After they got him out I still couldn’t quite believe it had happened. But once he started making noises I knew it was real. Even as a puppy of just a few minutes old I can’t believe how much he looks like Dylan. All the colourings and patterns on his body are in exactly the same places as Dylan had them.”
Remde said: “I was much more overwhelmed with emotion at the birth than I expected to be.”
The couple said the puppy was feeding well from his mother. “I’m trying to get my head round the fact that this puppy has 100% of the same DNA as Dylan,” said Jacques. “It’s quite confusing but I’m telling myself that Chance is just like one of Dylan’s puppies.
“I had had Dylan since he was a puppy,” she said. “I mothered him so much, he was my baby, my child, my entire world.”
Sooam, the leading laboratory in the world for dog cloning, has produced more than 700 dogs for commercial customers. The technique involves implanting DNA into a “blank” dog egg that has had the nucleus removed.
Jacques heard about dog cloning from a documentary about a competition Sooam ran for one UK dog owner to have their dog cloned free of charge. Rebecca Smith was the winner and her dachshund, Winnie, who is still alive, was successfully cloned.
David Kim, a scientist at Sooam, said the birth of the two cloned dogs was exciting for the laboratory because samples were taken from Dylan 12 days after he died. “This is the first case we have had where cells have been taken from a dead dog after a very long time,” he said. “Hopefully it will allow us to extend the time after death that we can take cells for cloning.”
There are no regulations on the cloning of pets, although the cloning of human beings is illegal, and in August the European parliament voted to outlaw the cloning of farm animals.