A British couple recently spent $100,000 to have their deceased dog cloned into a little Boxer. The history-making puppy was born just two weeks after Laura Jacques and Richard Remde’s dog, Dylan, died of a brain tumor.
Laura Jacques and Richard Remde have flown to South Korea to a laboratory that offers the service over Christmas.
They first contacted the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, which has pioneered pet cloning, after their boxer, Dylan, died from a brain tumour in June.
Mr Remde, 42, who manages a building firm, said the arrival of their cloned dogs would be like “five Christmases coming at once”. Miss Jacques, a professional dog walker, said: “I had had Dylan since he was a puppy. I mothered him so much, he was my baby, my child, my entire world.”
She heard about Sooam from a documentary on the first UK dog owner – Rebecca Smith from West London – to have her pet cloned. She had her living dachshund Winnie cloned for free after winning a competition. She called the new pup ‘Mini-Winnie’. The couple, thought to be the first Britons to pay to have their dog cloned, took the DNA samples from Dylan themselves. But Mr Remde had to make two trips to the laboratory, which is based in Seoul, the South Korean capital, because the first batch of samples did not grow.
The couple, from Silsden, North Yorkshire, were delighted when pregnancies were confirmed in two bitches using eggs carrying Dylan’s DNA.
Miss Jacques, 29, told the Guardian: “I couldn’t believe it. We were shocked and ecstatic, my legs turned to jelly. They said that the first puppy was due on Boxing Day and the second one a day later.”
The couple, who have four dogs and 11 other animals, have not buried Dylan, who died on June 30, but have kept him in a chest freezer.
Miss Jacques said: “He’s still in there because we are doing up the garden. When it’s done, we’ll bury him.” Mr Remde said: “We are a bit animal mad. We don’t go out socialising much, or drinking.”
Dylan was expected to live for between six and 18 months after being diagnosed with cancer, but he suffered a fatal heart attack only 18 days later.
Miss Jacques is sure they have done the right thing. “It is a controversial topic for people who don’t agree with it – there’ll be loads of people who would absolutely love the opportunity,’ she said. She thinks cloning a human would ‘have an adverse effect – but they live in the moment, dogs”.
To clone a dog, the laboratory implants DNA into a dog egg that has had its nucleus removed.The egg is given electric shocks to start cell division and it is then implanted into a surrogate bitch. Because the dogs will have the same DNA as Dylan, they will appear identical.
The Sooam lab has already cloned around 700 dogs. While cloning humans in Europe is illegal, there is no law against cloning a pet. But it is illegal to clone a farm animal.
Elizabeth J. Bentley