South Korean lab clones puppies from dead dog

By @vitthernandez on
Yorkshire Terrier
A Yorkshire Terrier waits for judging on the first day of the Crufts dog show at the NEC arena in Birmingham, central England, March 8, 2012. Reuters/Phil Noble

A laboratory in South Korea has been making a name by cloning puppies from dead pets. But according to the Web site of Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, the dog’s DNA must be extracted up to five days from its death.

However, even if the eight-year-old Yorkshire terrier of British couple Laura Jacques and Richard Remde has been dead for 12 days, Sooam managed to clone two puppies from the dead pet. Sooam Biotech told Remde when brought the DNA sample from the dog’s skin that chances of success are low due to the number of days that had passed since the animal died in June of a heart attack after it suffered from brain tumor. But the couple took a chance and were waiting for the birth of two puppies, reports Biztekmojo.

The first puppy was due on Dec 26 and the next puppy on Dec 27. Several groups, such as RSPCA and Genewatch, have criticised Sooam which has so far cloned more than 700 puppies since Dr Woo Suk Hwang started the procedure in 2005.

Genewatch Director Helen Wallace wants regulation on pet cloning because commercial cloning companies could exploit animal owners who are still grieving for their beloved pets. RSPCA believes the procedure causes pain and distress on animals and has high failure and mortality rates

The procedure costs $100,000 (AUD$137,728). It involves the extraction of DNA sample from a dead animal which is implanted into an egg where the nucleus has been removed and then implanted into a surrogate female dog.

David Kim, a scientist of the lab, insists that Sooam follows animal ethics and uses a third-party inspector from the government and a board of advisers who oversee the facility. Surrogate mother dogs are used only once, he adds.

Jacques and Remde are the first paying client of Sooam from UK, however, in 2014, Rebecca Smith, a London woman, won in a competition organised by Sooam, and she got as a prize the free cloning of a dachshund, Mini Winnie, born in March that year. They learned from Smith about the competition and immediately got in touch with the lab, reports The Guardian.

Jacques was so depressed by the death of her terrier that she then wanted to jump from a bridge. She says that while “there will be people who don’t agree with it but there will be loads of people that would love to be able to do it.” Remde describes the birth of the puppies to “like five Christmases coming all at once.”

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