Dog So Great Bay Area Firm Clones Him X5

Hero K9 wins "Most Clone-Worthy Dog" contest, gets bonus

These five cloned German shepherd puppies have some big paw prints to fill.
The duplicated doggies were delivered Sunday to owner James Symington, a former Canadian police officer, and his wife in Holmby Hills,  in southern Calfornia.

Before the original dog, Trakr, died in April at age 16, the couple had entered an essay contest that promised to clone a pet dog for free -- if the pooch was worthy. Cloning generally costs about $150,000.

"He always excelled at scenting, at air tracking, and combined with his courage and determination and his intuition, that made him an incredible search and rescue dog," Symington said.

Symington said he drove to New York with Trakr after the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, and the dog helped searched through rubble in the days after the attacks.

The contest was sponsored by the Mill Valley company BioArts International. The firm partnered with a South Korean company led by disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk, whose team performed the cloning.

"This was a very touching story that spoke not just to the moment in history, but also, to a truly objectively amazing animal," said Lou Hawthorne, of BioArts. "Some of that can be captured from cloning."

Symington met Trakr's clones -- Trustt, Solace, Valor, Prodigy and Deja vu -- for the first time this week. He said they already exhibit some of the qualities that made Trakr such a great dog.

"They've got confidence and that sense of curiosity," said Symington. "It's so unique and so extraordinary."

The puppies' similarities to Trakr also lift Symington's spirits after his longtime partner and friend died.

"There's never an easy time to say goodbye," he said. "But seeing, holding and loving these puppies gives me a lot of comfort."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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