London Woman Has Her Dog Cloned!

April 10, 2014

I don’t know if it is a good thing, or really, really strange. A woman has won a competition to have her 12 year old dog cloned, meaning, in a way, her dog will never die.

Sooam Biotech, a company based in Seoul, said it had cloned the puppy, named Mini-Winnie, from a 12-year-old dachshund belonging to Rebecca Smith from West London. Smith won a competition run by the company which hopes to sell the cloning service to pet owners for £60,000 a pop.


I understand the theory. As a pet lover, the worst moments of my life so far have been when my animals have died. Former colleagues and semi-distant relatives have passed away, and though I understand it is sad, I felt nothing compared to when my pets died.

All I, and many other pet owners want, is just one more day with the animal we loved. And when you look at it like that, I can understand that the idea of having a revolving door of the ‘same pet’ seems quite appealing. And if you can afford the money, then what’s the problem?

Well, one major problem stands out. Is this REALLY your pet? This is a concern shared by researchers.

“You would have about as much chance of replicating your favourite pet by choosing one from Battersea Dogs Home as you would from cloning it. And the former is likely to be loved more as it will not fail your expectations,” said Robin Lovell-Badge, a geneticist at the National Institute for Medical Research in London.

“It is extremely unlikely that a puppy cloned from a favourite pet will grow up to behave the same way.”

This is the point. Most of an animals (and humans) characteristics are developed through time and the way it’s brought up. Anyone who thinks their pet will pop out exactly the same as the previous incarnation is likely to be in for a big disappointment.

On top of that, if you look at the ‘credentials’ of Dr Hwang Woo-suk, the lead scientist at Sooam Biotech, things get even worse.

A Convicted Fraudster

Hwang was involved in a notorious incident in 2004, where he claimed to have made stem cells from patients’ skin tissue. It emerged later that he had collected human eggs from female members of his research team. Unsurprisingly he was fired from his job at Seoul University, and convicted of fraud.

The first cloned dog was created in 2005, by Hwang and his scientists. However, ‘Snuppy’ was the only healthy puppy to survive after 1,095 cloned embryos were implanted in 123 dogs.

I am not going to call Mr Hwang a crook or anything else, but this seems a high risk strategy for anyone willing to pay the £60,000 asking price.

And in the end, isn’t life about new experiences? After every pet died, a new one came into my life, bringing something new and irreplaceable.

For many reasons, I won’t be getting any of my pets cloned.


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