August 5, 2008

Pit Bull Becomes World’s First Commercial Clone

The first ever commercial cloning of a pet was carried out in South Korea, where five identical copies of Booger the pit bull terrier were created for an American client.

The cloned puppies were created at Seoul National University's veterinary school using some of Booger's refrigerated ear tissue.

The five puppies were born from two surrogate mothers on July 28, said Ra Jeong-Chan, CEO of RNL Bio which has launched a commercial dog cloning service in cooperation with the university scientists.

"This is a miracle. These guys gave me the best present," said Bernann McKinney, 57, a film scriptwriter from Hollywood.

McKinney sold her house in the United States to raise the $50,000 for RNL scientists to turn skin cells taken from Booger before he died two years ago into embryos carried by two surrogate dogs for two months until giving birth to the puppies last week.

"I had to make sacrifices and I dream of the day, some day when everyone can afford to clone their pet because losing a pet is a terrible, terrible loss to anyone."

McKinney says Booger once saved her life by chasing off a ferocious mastiff three times his size. The attack caused her to undergo massive reconstructive surgery.

She said the mastiff, another of her pets, and been driven mad by being given ten times the recommended dose of medication for a bee-sting.

"Booger was my partner and my friend. They are perfectly the same as their daddy. I am in heaven here. I am a happy person," she said.

The operation was launched in May by a team led by Professor Lee Byeong-Chun, who played a key role in creating the world's first cloned dog, an Afghan hound named Snuppy, on a non-commercial basis in 2005.

The lab said it hoped to make its technology more commercial along with its program to clone sniffer dogs for the Korean customs service.

"As of today, we are at the stage of receiving orders from anywhere in the world," RNL CEO Ra Jeongchan said.


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