Most pet owners understand the sense of pain and loss that comes with losing a beloved furry family member, particularly when death comes suddenly. Some might even bring home a new puppy to fill the void. But when Laura Jacques’ 8 year old boxer dog, Dylan, died of a sudden heart attack in June, she took things a step further: she and her partner hired a controversial South Korean biotech firm to create a clone.
Jacques and her partner, Richard Remde, had originally heard about Sooam Biotech Research Foundation on a reality TV show, and they decided to try to have Dylan cloned. They had trouble finding a veterinarian willing to take a tissue sample — they say everyone they approached turned them down. (Probably because the scientists at Sooam have been involved in previous legal trouble for their claims that they’d successfully cloned human embryos.) So instead, they ordered a skin biopsy kit off of Amazon and did it themselves. Then, Remde almost immediately hopped on a flight to South Korea to deliver the tissue.
When the first sample didn’t take, they had to defrost Dylan’s body, which had been placed in a freezer while awaiting burial, and repeated the process — international flight and all. At this point, Dylan had been dead for a full twelve days. Even the scientists were unsure if cloning would be possible at this late stage, as the previously only animals five days after death had been cloned successfully.
The researchers were able to work with this set of tissue samples, and the couple soon received news that two eggs containing the cloned DNA had been successfully implanted in surrogate dogs. In order to pay the £67,000 ($100,000) price tag, Jacques and Remde took out a bigger mortgage on their home.
The puppies, named Chance and Shadow after the dogs in the movie Homeward Bound, were born on December 26th. The ethical murkiness of the situation aside, they’re just as adorable as you might expect. Both puppies and their surrogate mothers can expect a new life in the UK in July, once they’ve reached the end of the mandatory quarantine period. In the meantime, Jacques and Remde plan to make several more costly trips to South Korea to visit the dogs. The animals will join their existing menagerie of four dogs, seven guinea pigs, two rabbits, a gerbil and a hamster.
Via The Guardian
Images via @WeLovedDylan