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Cloned Sniffer Dogs Report for Training

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« on: April 25, 2008, 11:59:04 pm »

Cloned Sniffer Dogs Report for Training
Six white male dogs collectively named Toppy reported for duty at a training facility for sniffer dogs run by the Korea Customs Service in Yeongjongdo, Incheon on Thursday morning. Chase, the father of the dogs, and his six sons look exactly the same -- because the sons were cloned, born to surrogate mothers via the transfer of the nucleui of Chase’s somatic cells. The cloning project was carried out by a team of Seoul National University veterinarians led by Lee Byeong-chun -- a member of the disgraced cloning expert Hwang Woo-suk’s team, who was believed to have invented the method.

Korea Customs Service shows off six Toppies, the world’s first cloned sniffer dogs, at a training center in Incheon on Thursday. They were cloned by a research team at Seoul National University. /Yonhap 

Seven cloned puppies were born in October and November last year to three surrogate mothers, but as one injured his leg, he missed Thursday’s training session. The Toppies have passed the first round of tests, for behavioral patterns and genetic qualities that would make them good drug-sniffer dogs. They will now be trained to distinguish the smell of various types of drugs until June next year.
“Toppy” is a compound name meaning “tomorrow’s puppy”; the Toppies are numbered one to seven to tell them apart. Since the Labrador Retriever father has a reputation for being one of the best sniffing dogs at Gunsan Customs, an official at the training center said the Toppies too have great potential to be the best in the field. Chase and the Toppies do not know that they are family, so they growl at each other whenever they meet, the official said.

The Korea Customs Service commissioned the cloning project because they thought that training clones of an effective sniffer dog would be easier than training ordinary dogs, which may or may not have the right genetic makeup for the job. A total budget of 300 million (US1$=W992) was required to clone the seven dogs. But because it was a nationally funded research project, the Korea Customs Service did not have to pay for anything. However, if it wants to keep to Toppies, it will have to pay SNU W70 million for each of them.

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