A British couple has paid $100,000 to have their dead dog cloned, after being unable to get over the loss of their beloved pet.
Dylan, one of the many animals owned by Richard Remde and Laura Jacques, passed away back in June, after sustaining a heart attack.
Veterinarians had previously discovered that the eight-year old boxer suffered from advanced brain cancer which couldn’t be surgically removed, but although his owners had been prepared that his death would soon come, it still left them shaken.
Given the fact that 29-year old Jacques had once watched a documentary about pet cloning, the couple decided to resort to the services of Sooam, a biotech research organization from South Korea.
The foundation, led by Woo-Suk Hwang, became world-famous after being able to achieve the first canine clone 10 years ago: an Afghan hound, called Snuppy.
In the last decade, around 700 pet owners managed to get a copy of their favorite quadruped, at the steep cost of $100,000 per procedure.
There was one lucky person who benefited from these innovative services for free, after winning a contest organized by Sooam.
It was Rebecca Smith, who also became the first person in the United Kingdom to have her dog cloned. A genetic replica of her 14-year old daschund Winnie, was created, thus alleviating her owner’s fears that she would one day no longer get to be in the company of her pet anymore.
Experiencing the same turmoil, Dylan’s owners also wanted to try cloning, and soon after the boxer’s death, Remde went to the Sooam lab, bringing tissue samples containing the deceased pet’s DNA.
In the first attempt, the procedure didn’t yield the expected results, which is why Remde had to take one more trip to Britain, and fetch another skin sample from the dog’s belly.
This time, despite the fact that 12 days had passed since Dylan’s death, cloning proved successful. Researchers were in fact baffled, given that never before had they managed to create a carbon copy of an animal who had been dead for over 5 days and whose genetic material had decayed so much.
The entire process consists in taking tissue from a pet’s stomach or cheek, and then extracting a DNA sample from that biopsy.
That genetic material is afterwards placed inside a donor egg, whose own nucleus has been excised, and in order to encourage cells to divide electricity is added to the mix, allowing the old DNA to pulse with life once again.
Subsequently, the embryo is placed in a surrogate mother, and in as little as 9 weeks offspring identical to their progenitor are born.
That’s exactly what happened on this occasion also: Jacques and Remde witnessed the birth of their new pooch Chance right on Christmas Day, and are still awaiting another replica of Dylan to be born from another embryo which was successfully fertilized.
The bereaved owners are still trying to come to terms with their boxer’s death, and are still keeping his corpse in the freezer, until they finish preparing his burying spot.
While the new litter will undoubtedly allow Jacques and Remde to keep a part of Dylan still with them, the clones, although extremely similar physically speaking, aren’t likely to be completely identical to their original dog after all, given that other factors are at play when it comes to deciding a pet’s personality and growth.
In addition, as the RSPCA points out, there is a high likelihood that the puppies might eventually experience health issues such as pneumonia, development issues and even tumors.
Image Source: RT