9/11 police dog cloned: is it right?

by Leanne Thompson on June 18, 2009

cloned-dogsA German Shepherd search and rescue police dog, who rescued the last person alive following the attacked in 9/11, has now been cloned to create five puppies.

The dog’s owner James Symington is delighted with the pups and hopes they will serve as police dogs just like their father Trakr who died at the grand age of sixteen years old just two months ago.

Just last year, the first ever commercial cloning of a pet dog was done in California and cost £25,000 – and that was a discounted rate, one American family paid $155,000 for a clone of their pet dog.  Just a month later, the first ever cloned dog was used as a stud dog with another cloned dog to create our first cloned dog family.  Should we be able to clone our dogs at an affordable price so we can minimise the grief experienced when we lose a dog?

Before Trakr passed away, his owners entered a competition allowing the winner to clone their pet dog for free.

Trakr’s owner Symington is a retired police office and drove from Nova Scotia to help in the 9/11 search and rescue efforts in 2001.  Trakr was made famous when he was credited with finding the last person alive and was subsequently presented with an award for his service to humanity.

The competition was to find the most worthy dog for the prize of cloning and Symington’s winning entry stated:

“Once in a lifetime, a dog comes along that not only captures the hearts of all he touches but also plays a private role in history.”

The cloned puppies are appropriately called Prodigy, Valor, Trust, Solace and Dejavu.  The genes in canine eggs were replaced with Trakr’s genes, scientifically stimulated into embryos and implanted into surrogate bitches.  Of the puppies, Symington said:

“They’re identical – down to the smallest detail.  Few dogs are born with exceptional abilities – Trakr was one of those dogs.  And if these puppies have the same attributes as Trakr, I plan on putting them in to search and rescue so they can help people the way Trakr did.”

Recently, there has been much publicity about cloning dogs, most noticeably the glow-in-the-dark dogs cloned by scientists in South Korea, but is it ever right to do so?  Should we be offering it as a service to all dog owners, or just for special dogs like Trakr, and who would decide if they’re special enough?

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