Technology

South Korean Cloning Facility Will Create a “Reborn” Version of Your Dead Dog for $100K

July 18, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Family of Gerrnan shepherds on a beach
Photo credit: gomagoti/flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Just put your deceased pet in the fridge for a few days and the company will handle the rest.

Dogs earned their title as “man’s best friend” for a reason, so the death of a dog can feel like the loss of a family member.

However, the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation thinks it may have a solution — for a cool $100,000, the scientists claim they can clone a version of a client’s dead dog and create a “reborn” version of the canine in the form of a new puppy.

"These people have very a strong bond with their pets ... and cloning provides a psychological alternative to the traditional method of just letting the pet go and keeping their memory," Sooam researcher and spokesman Wang Jae-Woong told Futurism.

SEE ALSO: Chinese Cloning Factory Will Be Capable of Replicating Humans

Cloning dogs isn’t Sooam’s sole specialty — the company clones cattle and pigs for medical research, as well as develops genetically-engineered animals to use as disease models in scientific research.

However, the dog-cloning service attracts the most customers, with an impressive client base including celebrities, billionaires, princes, and regular pet owners. Since 2006, Sooam has cloned nearly 800 dogs, with one of its most well-known projects being the cloning of Trakr, a rescue dog that found the last survivor in the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy. Five clones of Trakr were made.

First and foremost, the process begins with putting the deceased dog in the fridge to keep it cool. The company specifies “not the freezer,” and reminds its clients to wrap the dog’s entire body in wet towels as well.

There’s a time window of up to five days to get the dog delivered to a facility where a mature cell from the canine can be harvested and copied. Then, the DNA is fused with a donor egg that’s been stripped of its original genetic material, and the resulting embryo is placed in a surrogate mother dog.

After about two months, the dead dog is reborn as a new puppy.

The process of cloning itself is a controversial topic, and to stir things up even more, the founder of Sooam has a notorious past, with a scandal surrounding his cloning research a few years back.

In 2004 and 2005, Woo Suk Hwang claimed to have successfully derived stem cell lines from cloned human embryos, but his published work was later found to be a hoax with a number of ethical violations.  

In fact, he went on to serve a two-year prison sentence for embezzlement and bioethics breach.

“I think the only way to win the public’s trust back is making more genuine scientific breakthroughs,” Hwang told Futurism.

But all scandals aside, the researchers at Sooam say that the dog-cloning service is the most fulfilling aspect of their work at the foundation.

After giving people back their dogs, "They look like they found a child that had been missing," said head researcher Jeong Yeon-Woo. "The moment of pure joy like that ... makes me realise again why I’m doing this."

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