Skip to comments.Genetically produced dog signals new frontier for family animals
Posted on 12/24/2008 10:30:18 AM PST by BGHater
With one ear flopped forward and her tongue dangling in anticipation of another item to fetch, Mira seemed like any other playful pup scampering around Eastwood Park in Tamalpais Valley.
But proud owner Lou Hawthorne of Mill Valley said Mira - the world's first cloned pet dog - signals a new horizon in genetics. The border collie/husky just turned 1 year old.
"I'm delighted we're here at this milestone," said Hawthorne, who spent a decade trying to clone his family's dog that died in 2002. "During the process of creating her, it was a goal. But once I had Mira in my arms she was an entity with feelings. She's real."
Hawthorne, 48, said Mira's home life provided "the first time we can say anything halfway intelligent about behavioral similarities" among clones. His dog was born in the same Korean biotech lab that created the first cloned dog in 2005.
In addition to a striking physical resemblance to Missy, a three-quarters border collie and one-quarter husky that died at age 15, her clone shows the same athleticism, intelligence and mischievousness, but some differences as well.
Like Missy, Mira likes to play a game in which someone holds an item just out of reach; unlike Missy, Mira doesn't mind loud noises and bright lights.
Hawthorne, chief executive of Mill Valley-based BioArts International, which licensed patents issued in the 1990s after researchers in Scotland cloned a sheep, created three other Missy clones months after Mira. Missy Too lives with other family members; Mani lives with a scientist in Phoenix; and Kahless lives with a linguist in Boulder, Colo., where she is being taught commands in the Klingon language from "Star Trek." (In the "Star Trek" franchise, Kahless was a legendary Klingon leader who was cloned in an episode of "The Next Generation" series.)
"We have four near-Missys," he quipped.
Their genetic makeup was confirmed to be Missy's exact copy by the University of California at Davis veterinary genetics lab.
Elizabeth Wictum, associate director of the school's veterinary forensics lab, said though the puppies were deemed genetically identical, "in terms of how identical the dogs would be, we don't entirely know how much genetics play in terms of personality."
"Their environment plays a role in developing the animal's personality," she said.
BioArts, which raised more than $700,000 in an online dog-cloning auction earlier this year, is Hawthorne's second commercial cloning venture. His Genetic Savings and Clone of Sausalito, which offered to clone customers' pet cats, closed in 2006.
In the past month, the firm cloned three dogs. Hawthorne declined to identify the customers, but he said they included clients from the company's auction - and possibly Trakr, the German shepherd search-and-rescue dog that found the last human survivor of 9/11 among the World Trade Center rubble. Trakr's owner has accepted BioArts' offer to clone the dog.
Hawthorne would only say of the auction clients that they were all couples or families wishing to clone their pets; four of them live in the United States, and cloning fees ranged from $130,000 to $170,000.
"Pet cloning is fun, but I think it's not going to be a huge business because the work is very complex," he said. "Most of the world is going to get dogs out of shelters, and that's a good thing."
Lou Hawthorne of Mill Valley-based BioArts International plays with his dog Mira in a park Friday in Mill Valley. Showing a striking physical resemblance to her genetic sire, Mira has just turned 1 year old.
Lou Hawthorne, with his cloned dog Mira, is chief executive of Mill Valley-based BioArts International. His first commercial cloning venture, Genetic Savings and Clone of Sausalito, offered to clone customers pet cats.
“Genetically produced dog...”
Is there any other kind?
Didn’t Dolly the cloned sheep have terrible genetic problems that ultimately killed her? I might be remembering it wrong.
RePet! Where’s Arnold when you need him?
I got me a birddog.
Is there any other kind?
Oh, so cute, Martin!
I want one!
I can see where the price tag will hold demand down a bit.