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Friday, June 19, 2009

Puppy power: Heroic 9/11 rescue dog is cloned five times after winning competition

By Claire Bates

A dog who was hailed for his heroism during the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been cloned.

Scientists said they have successfully produced five puppies who are genetic copies of Trackr, a German Shepherd who searched for survivors in the rubble of the World Trade Centre.

The puppies called Trustt, Valor, Prodigy, Solace and Deja Vu, are aged between two and six months.

Enlarge James Symington and puppies

James Symington poses with five puppies cloned from his faithful friend Trackr, who passed away in April

The faithful hound died in April aged 16, but before he passed away his owner James Symington entered a contest that offered to clone a pet dog for free. It currently costs owners about £75,000 to clone their pet.

Trackr was judged to be the most 'cloneworthy dog' after the former police officer from Canada wrote an impassioned essay.

'Once in a lifetime, a dog comes along that not only captures the hearts of all he touches but also plays a private role in history,' Mr Symington wrote.

He said he hopes to put the five new dogs to work in search-and-rescue teams.


The puppies are the first German Shepherds ever cloned, according BioArts International


Trackr, pictured with owner James Symington, helped find the last survivor from the New York terrorist attacks in September 2001

The Best Friends Again contest was run by Californian company BioArt International, who claim to have the sole worldwide license for cloning dogs and cats. They partnered with the controversial cloning specialist Hwang Woo-Suk from South Korea to create Trackr's clones.

Hwang's team replaced the genes in eggs from random dogs with genes harvested from Trakr. They grew into embryos after they were stimulated and were then placed in surrogate mothers.

'Trakr's story blew us away,' said Lou Hawthorne, CEO of BioArts.

'His many remarkable capabilities were proven beyond all doubt on our nation's darkest hour.'

However, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said they had concerns about the health of cloned dogs.

They released a statement that said: 'Our current knowledge of animal cloning indicates that there are important welfare concerns at issue.

'Reports on the health and condition of mammalian animals produced by cloning have indicated a variety of anatomical and physiological problems.'