Cloning is back in fashion in South Korea, with two biotech labs billing themselves as the only places in the world where you can clone your dog. Both labs are staffed by researchers who worked with former national biotech hero, Hwang Woo-suk, made famous for his human stem cell work and then again for that work being fraudulent. Hwang went on to start Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, while some of his fellow researchers have opened RNL Bio Co, both labs are cloning dogs and not just for sentimental owners.
One RNL customer is Korea’s Custom’s Service, which cloned a champion sniffer dog. The customs department estimates that it costs twice as much to breed and train a normal sniffer dog than to clone one, which costs about $60,260 per clone. Korea Customs Service Commissioner Hur Yong-suk said: “This all came about from the question of how we could secure dogs with superior qualities at a low price.” Trainers have been working with seven cloned Labrador retrievers, all named Toppy (tomorrow’s puppy), who were produced from a top drug sniffing dog named Chase.
Both labs say they are doing more of the working dog and endangered species type cloning than the i-can’t-bear-to-lose Spot variety, but RNL will soon produce its first cloned pet: a pit bull named Booger for a woman in California, who said the dog saved her life.
Earlier this year Sooam cloned three puppies from the CEO of U.S. biotech firm BioArts mixed breed named Missy. In a partnership with Sooam, BioArts is auctioning off five slots to people who want to clone their pets, with bids starting at $100,000.