December 14, 2012

Cloning Dogs (Part 2)

My last article ended with a small cliffhanger involving the lead researcher in canine cloning, Hwang Woo-Suk. After his Snuppy project he came under fire for lying about some of his other work, and was dismissed from his position. Then many people started to question if Snuppy was real or if he was another lie? Then they checked and tested Snuppy over and over again, he is the real deal. Snuppy was checked and tested over and over again – he is the real deal, a one hundred percent identical clone to his Afghan genetic donor.

Snuppy’s fame and scientific breakthrough that came along with it didn’t stop here. He has made a large impact on the world of science; he became a father in 2008. I don’t mean that they cloned him with a sample from his ear, but they took Snuppy’s sperm and artificially inseminated two other females. This is interesting because the mothers of his puppies were also clones, but of a different dog. Ten puppies were born and nine of them survived. Would you just think about the puppies of the clones for a minute? I pondered this idea for a time – who is the grandsire? What does the family tree look like now?

These advances in cloning have made it possible for the South Korean government to clone working dogs that are used for sniffing by the Korean Customs Service. They are cloned from Labrador Retrievers that are already successful sniffer dogs in Canada. This is a big step forward for governments because only around 12% of dogs can become sniffer dogs. This could potentially save the governments of the world a lot of time and money in the future.

The question you may be asking is why don’t they just breed these dogs together to make a super sniffing dog? The answer is because they neuter a lot of the dogs that go into the sniffing business. When you neuter a male dog he becomes much calmer and it is much easier for him to concentrate and do his job successfully.

As a side note, I think it is pretty cool that there is a chance that when my luggage came into Korea, a cloned dog was checking it for bombs or drugs.

Wrapping up, I know that Sand (the dog mentioned in my previous article) is not a clone, nor is he a bomb sniffer. He is just a dog outside in some recently ridiculously cold weather waiting on someone to take him home.

The next time you are considering getting a pet, which some of you may be doing now since it is the holiday season and you are considering gifting one to your loved ones just know that there are hundreds of dogs out there sitting in shelters alone. The one you are looking at may not be a clone or a purebred, but he could just be the best thing to ever happen to you.

The Good: Dogs are man’s best friend, and they help us with a lot of tasks, so keeping this in mind, why wouldn’t we want clones of a dog that can smell a bomb in an airport?

The Bad: You probably won’t ever get the chance to have a cloned dog, so go to a shelter and get a good dog from there.

You can see some of the great animals that need some help this winter here:

Image Credit: O.M. / Shutterstock

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