A woman won a contest and got a prize worth 60,000 pounds – a chance to get her beloved dog cloned.
Rebecca Smith won the contest for her dog, a beautiful dachshund called Winnie. The twelve year old canine was then taken to a laboratory and her cells were used to enable the reproduction of a puppy. It was nicknamed “mini Winnie” and was a clone of Smith’s dog.
The owner and her boyfriend have always been very close to their dogs, but Rebecca says she is closest to Winnie. Though the dog was old, she was extremely special, and Rebecca’s boyfriend had joked about getting her cloned.
When Rebecca heard of the contest, she immediately sent in some videos of Winnie, and they eventually won. The dachshund was chosen by executives from a cloning company – who had to shortlist three dogs and then present each one’s case to the company.
After this, the researchers asked for a sample of Winnie’s skin tissue. This was stored in liquid nitrogen and transported all the way from the UK to South Korea. There, the cells from her skin tissue were placed inside eggs from a donor dog of the same breed. An embryo was created using a spark of electricity, and then the embryo was transferred into a surrogate dog. The surrogate in question was a mongrel.
The pup was born on the 30th of March via C-section, and weighed just a little over a pound. Rebecca, who works as a caterer in London, travelled the distance to witness the birth. According to her, the pup looked just like Winnie. As of now, it was just lazing around and drinking milk, so she could not determine if the dogs’ personalities were as identical as their looks.
Unfortunately, the pup would not be able to meet Winnie, due to the strict quarantine laws imposed by the UK. Rebecca said that she would have to wait for six months to get the pup back home.
Rebecca said that Winnie had been instrumental in helping her overcome bulimia when she was a teenager. Rebecca will be seen in a Channel 4 documentary tonight crediting Winnie with helping her overcome bulimia as a teenager. She said, “I have come out the other end now and it has made me a stronger person and I think that Winnie has helped me through.” She also added that Winnie deserved to be cloned, and that the world would be much better with dogs like her in it.
The researchers behind the amazing test tube procedure were from South Korean company, Sooam Biotech. They hope that Winnie’s successful cloning would inspire many other pet lovers to immortalize their pets in this manner – despite the huge amount they would have to pay. The company has already carried out over four hundred cloning procedures, and the practice is gaining interest in the Far East, as well as in certain countries in the west.
However, the creator of Dolly the sheep, the first cloned animal in 1996, said that the personality of the dogs would depend on the way they were treated. Sir Ian Wilmut said, “If you spend £60,000 on a cloned dog you will treat it differently.” Hence, he was skeptical of the effects of cloning dogs.
Criticism on the move also came from animal rights organization, PETA. They specifically reiterated Sir Wilmut’s point – cloning would only replicate genetic material, not personalities. They said that it would be better to give a homeless animal a chance at a happy life.
However, Rebecca said in defence that the cloning environment is also animal friendly. She is looking forward to introducing Mini Winnie to the original Winnie, soon.