First Commercial Dog Cloning Operation Yields Five Little "Boogers"

By Eliza Strickland | August 5, 2008 4:02 pm

pit bull blackAt the price of $50,000, a pit bull terrier named Booger has been cloned to produce five little baby Boogers, the South Korean biotech company RNL Bio announced yesterday. The first commercially cloned dogs were produced for client Bernann McKinney, a California screenwriter and former beauty queen who couldn’t stand the loss of her beloved pit bull.

McKinney was reportedly restored to great good humor at the sight of the five wriggling puppies. “It’s a miracle!” McKinney repeatedly shouted Tuesday when she saw the cloned Boogers at a Seoul National University laboratory. “Yes, I know you! You know me, too!” McKinney said joyfully, hugging the puppies, which were sleeping with one of their two surrogate mothers, both Korean mixed breed dogs [AP].

To create the clones, a number of skin cells were taken from Booger before he died of cancer in April 2006. The cells were then reprogrammed to act as embryos, which were implanted in two surrogate mothers. The RNL Bio team worked with South Korean scientists who used the same technique to create the first cloned dog, the Afghan hound Snuppy, in 2005. Dogs are considered one of the more difficult mammals to clone because their reproductive cycle includes difficult-to-predict ovulations [Reuters].

McKinney says she was determined to clone Booger because the pit bull saved her from a savage attack by another one of the dogs, a mastiff, who McKinney says was temporarily crazed by an overdose of bee-sting medication. He was chewing open her stomach when she said she called out, “Help me, God. Help me, Jesus. Help me, Booger,” and the smaller dog succeeded in driving off the mastiff long enough for her to drag herself into the safety of her car [The Times].

Image: iStockphoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • Mary

    “If by chance we meet again”
    This topic was touched upon by both a television and a radio episode of This American Life:

    “Ralph and Sandra Fisher run a show-animal business in Texas whose biggest star was an unusually gentle Brahman bull named Chance. They loved Chance, and when he died, they tried to bring him back from the dead using cloning technology being developed up the road at Texas A&M University. It worked. A baby bull was born from Chance’s DNA. He seemed like Chance reincarnated. Except he wasn’t. Which Ralph found out the hard way.”

    DNA only provides a blueprint, a set of instructions. An individual’s personality and physical state depends upon how that set of instructions has manifested over time. There are an infinitesimal number of effectors that act upon the initial instructions furnished by DNA. For example, exposure to UV rays may cause skin cancer. Having a bad experience during infancy could effect your personality later in life.

    Although Booger’s DNA was used as a starting point, the personality of each of the individual puppies will develop depending upon each one’s experience. Superficially, they will resemble Booger in terms of coat color and build. They may be susceptible to ailments that arise due to faulty DNA instructions – hip dysplasia, hemophilia, deafness – contained in Booger’s DNA. One could, due to environmental factors, develop cancer while the others do not. No doubt the Booger clones will hold different hierarchal positions in their pack; we can expect that their personalities will reflect their social status.

    So, in short, Booger’s owner paid a cool 50 Gs for several puppies that LOOK exactly like her dead dog, and that she expects to ACT exactly like her dead dog. She will be disappointed to find that is not the case. Cells are dynamic things; quite a bit can happen from point a to point b.

    Anyway, she would have done better to have adopted three discarded pit bull puppies from the shelter. The money she spent to entertain her fantasy of resurrection could have saved hundreds of desperate dogs.

  • emm

    that pic is not an apbt, its a staffie, or amstaff

  • Joy

    emm, it’s a common. People apply the term “pit bull” to any mix breed stocky terrier with a common set of features.

    I agree with Mary; the woman could have saved thousands of wonderful dogs for the cost of the clones, which are unlikely to be exactly like her Booger. But, since those with more money than common sense are free to do whatever they like, we now have the clones. It’s a sad old world.

  • Mr.Truthteller

    You people are a bunch of judgemental idiots. Ms. McKinney already HAD five rescue dogs. (How many have you HYPOCRITES rescued?) Booger was chosen to replicate because of his high degree of intelligence. She had her arms amputated and reconstructed; Service Dog Booger was
    her “hands”. He could open a door with his teeth, get a towel from the dryer, take off her shoes and socks, and turn off her lights with a toggle switch, and pull her wheelchair when the battery went down. He was never TRAINED to be a service dog; he just WAS one. And everywhere that remarkable dog went, he spread Love and worked his particular brand of magic–at old folks homes where he carried baskets of cookies to people who had no one; to veterans centers as he brushed up against the stumps of a man who had no legs, who wrote a song about him because he was so special. His owner was blessed by God to have known him, and even more bless to have five clones of him who will carry on his Legacy by becoming service dogs like their Clone-Parent. And yes, in dogs, as with human beings, intelligence IS passed onto one’s children. As the cloning scientist said “We came give him a body, you can help re-create the sweet original Booger personality with much Love; and God Himself will give him a soul”. Some people have enough Faith to believe in Miracles. Booger’s owner had this kind of Faith; apparently you people DON’T!

  • http://www.richarddawkins.net Rationalist

    This is great. But it’s actual science, not a magical, mystical, miracle.
    I hope people won’t use the “soul” argument. For one, your fictitious Bible doesn’t say dogs have them. And two, it’s superstitious hokey for people who are dim enough to think we all survive the death of our brains.
    The obscurantists/superstitious/religious(all synonyms) are always against new technologies. Remember, intelligence is the enemy of religion. But this is a beautiful step towards the mastery of genetic codes. That will end suffering and introduce a better humanity. Possibly even give actual, eternal life. (For real, not just living eternally on a cloud with those you love but nobody that annoys you)For now, cloning Fido is a choice one should have. I hope my dog lives as long as possible. And I would gladly love her through as many lives as we can get.

    Here’s an idea. Dumb people are so scared of the word “cloning”, so we need to rebrand with a cuter name.

  • Optimist

    Just because you believe in God doesn’t mean that you are against new technology. The fact is even though she cloned (or what ever you want to call it) doesn’t mean the clones will be anything like the original dog. If she wanted a really smart dog again doesn’t mean she had to clone the one she had.Many dogs at shelters are really smart because they have to be to survive as a stray.Further more dealing with grief is part of everyday life. If you try to ignore it you might ebd up like Mr. Charles Dickenson’s Miss Havesham

  • http://ray4ramos.wiki.zoho.com/HomePage.html?a=1 Graves

    I perform with these dogs and as far as animal behavior goes, I’m a solid believer in nurture and instruction. I’ve met Jack Russell Terriers that I wouldn’t go around once again, but have by no means had a poor expertise with an American Staffordshire Terrier. If you’re talking about their owners- nicely, that’s a distinct story. Humans are creatures as nicely, and we have a tendency to each have our unique ideas about “moral concepts”.

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