Five For The Price Of One

I've reported on a few cloning stories but this one is a little different. The person who had their dog cloned was the winner of...

Horst Hoefinger  |  Jun 19th 2009


I’ve reported on a few cloning stories but this one is a little different. The person who had their dog cloned was the winner of “The Golden Clone Giveaway” contest by California firm BioArts International. The firm held a contest to find the world’s most “cloneworthy” dog.

James Symington was the winner and his dog Trakr was cloned. Trakr was a search and rescue dog who helped find people in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He found the last human survivor in the rubble of the twin towers.

Symington, a former Canadian police officer, choked back tears as he formally took possession of the five descendants of his beloved German shepherd named Trakr, who died in April.

“We’re here to celebrate that Trakr’s legacy lives on in these five beautiful puppies,” he told reporters. “If they have the same attributes Trakr did, then hopefully they’ll develop into world class search and rescue dogs.”

Symington and Trakr arrived at the site of the World Trade Center collapse, commonly referred to as Ground Zero, on September 12, 2001 and were one of the first K9 search and rescue teams on the scene.

“Trakr was an extraordinary search and rescue dog. His work at Ground Zero was the culmination of his career,” Symington said.

BioArts International, which says it offers the world’s first commercial dog cloning service, partnered with South Korea’s SooAm Biotech Research Foundation to clone Trakr under the direction of scientist Hwang Woo-Suk.

Hawthorne defended the right of people to clone their dogs instead of obtaining new pets from rescue shelters.

“I think 99 percent of the time people should get their pets from shelters,” he told AFP.

“But can we agree though that one percent of the time if you have a one in a million dog and you have the money to pay for it, you should be able to go to either a breeder or a cloner?”

Hawthorne said Trakr had been chosen for cloning because of his heroics on 9/11. “We received many very touching submissions to our contest, describing some truly amazing dogs,” he said. “But Trakr’s story blew us away.”

“I respect that cloning’s not for everyone. But there are few dogs that are born with extraordinary abilities and Trakr was one of those dogs,” he said.”I look forward to the day that these puppies can follow in Trakr’s footsteps and play an important role in other rescues, like Trakr did.”

Due to the fact that cloning is extremely expensive, about $144,000 per dog, it is cost prohibitive for the average person. I can’t see dog lovers everywhere running out to get their dog cloned, but it still raises some interesting questions.

Is it right to clone a dog? Will the clones really have the same traits and qualities as the original dog? Will the clones have health or psychological issues? Give me a bark, share your thoughts.

*Photo courtesy PRNewsFoto