It's super cute and super freaky at the same time: Retired Canadian police officer James Symington received five puppies cloned from his beloved German Shepherd, Trakr, who died two months ago. Last year, Symington, who now lives in Los Angeles, won a contest from BioArts International which asked for essays on the "most cloneworthy" dog. Symington wrote about how he and Trakr drove to NYC after the September 11, 2001 attacks; the Daily News reported, "Braving horrific conditions, the pair helped locate the last human survivor of 9/11 under some 30 feet of unstable debris."
In recent years, Trakr had suffered from a degenerative neurological disorder (possibly from exposure to toxins at Ground Zero). BioArts decided to clone five puppies, instead of just one. Symington, through a press release from BioArts, said it was emotional meeting the puppies, "They're identical -- down to the smallest detail. Few dogs are born with exceptional abilities -- Trakr was one of those dogs. And if these puppies have the same attributes as Trakr, I plan on putting them into search and rescue so they can help people the way Trakr did." And he told CBS News, "Trakr was so much a part of my life, and, you know, he was more than just my partner. He was my best friend and my lifelong companion. Seeing and having his legacy live on in these puppies is a tremendous gift." By the way, the pups names are Trustt, Solace, Valor, Prodigy and Deja-Vu.
BioArts worked with South Korean researcher Hwang Woo-Suk, who previously admitted to faking cloning data. Hwang said of the puppies, "9-11 was a terrible shock for Korean people as well as Americans. These five clones of Trakr, who saved a human life at Ground Zero, are a gift not just to Mr. Symington, but to America and the world." But the ASPA released a statement, "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."