Cloned Pets: Looks Can Be Deceiving

Cloned cows, double dogs, copy cats look like originals but act differently.

ByABC News
January 29, 2009, 2:47 PM

Jan. 30, 2009— -- For the first time on Tuesday -- $155,000 and a disgraced Korean scientist later -- the Ottos of Boca Raton, Fla., met what they hope is the yellow Labrador retriever they had lived with for 11 years.

The couple this week welcomed into their home a 10-week-old puppy aptly named Sir Lancelot Encore, a genetic clone created in South Korea by a California biotech company from the DNA of the couple's beloved dog Sir Lancelot, who died last year.

"He was a wonderful dog," said Nina Otto, 66. "Money wasn't an object. We just wanted our wonderful, loving dog back."

The first successful mammal cloned from adult cells was Dolly the sheep in 1996. Since then, scientists have cloned a growing number of animals, from cats to cows, opening doors that have allowed for the production of life-saving human pharmaceuticals and the creation of dependably hearty livestock.

But cloning pets is a relatively new and expensive procedure that not only raises questions about spending thousands of dollars to recreate a cat or dog when thousands of others languish in pounds, but about the psychic toll pet owners face when the clone of their favorite cat or dog looks -- but doesn't act -- like the original.

Nina and her husband Ed Otto bid $155,000 in an auction held last July by the California-based firm BioArts. Using genetic material, the couple took from the first "Lancy" and had frozen six years ago, the Korean company Sooam Biotech Research Foundation made an exact genetic replica of the dog -- making Encore the first commercially cloned puppy in the United States.

Sooam Biotech Research Foundation is led by the controversial scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who lost his job at Seoul National University, as well as his prominence in Korean society, in 2004 when it was discovered that he had lied about creating the first clones of human embryos and stem cells.

This week, just days after the Ottos picked up Encore from the airport, another South Korean firm, RNL Bio, announced it would provide dog cloning services at $55,000, half the average cost for the procedure.