LONDON, April 9 (UPI) -- For many dog-lovers, the fading moments of their favorite pooch's life are painfully sad. They'd give anything for another ten or fifteen years with their beloved canine companion -- anything to turn back the clocks and take that happy pup on a walk for the first time.
Now, for a little more than $100,000, Sooam Biotech, a dog-cloning company based in Seoul, South Korea, can make that wish come true -- sort of. Sooam Biotech will give a longing pet-owner a brand new dog, a newly-born version of their aging friend.
To raise awareness about their services, the company recently hosted a competition for pet owners. The prize: a free dog cloning. The inaugural contest winner, Rebecca Smith, a caterer from West London, recently became the first Brit to own a cloned puppy.
Smith's new puppy is "Mini-Winnie," named for her 12-year-old dachshund Winnie -- from which Mini was genetically replicated.
To clone Winnie, Sooam Biotech isolated her DNA via small samples of skin. That DNA was then injected into an egg collected from another dachshund. Finally, the fertilized egg was implanted into the womb of a surrogate dog.
The contest, as well as the broader dog-cloning industry, has come under fire from many critical scientists.
"I see no valid justification for cloning pets," Robin Lovell-Badge, a geneticist at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, told The Guardian. "It is a ridiculous waste of money and hope as well as being ethically very dubious."
Dusko Ilic, a stem cell scientist at King's College London, agrees. Ilic says Smith's new puppy is unlikely to resemble the original -- the dog she first came to love. He told British paper: "As time passes by, the differences will be more and more pronounced, especially personality traits."
"It is an absolute waste of money," Ilic added -- speaking to those who might consider shelling out the one hundred grand.
[The Guardian] [ABC News]