One of the men behind the push to clone dogs — and market the service to bereaved pet owners — seems more convinced than ever that doing so was, if not a mistake, at least a quest that led to some bad places.
Lou Hawthorne, who established a cell bank (Genetic Savings & Clone) and pushed researchers at Texas A&M University to try and clone the world’s first dog in the late 1990s — in hopes of turning dog cloning into a profitable business — said in an interview last week that cloning has led to thousands of dogs suffering each year.
“A cloned dog contributes to the happiness of a family but I do not think it is possible to do it without a huge amount of suffering to hundreds of others,” Hawthorne told The Mirror, which was reporting on the first dog cloning for a customer in the UK.
Hawthorne has been out of the dog cloning business since shutting down BioArts, the successor to Genetic Savings & Clone, which closed not long after efforts to clone a dog at Texas A&M were dropped.
That research was funded by John Sperling, the wealthy founder of the University of Phoenix and the boyfriend of Hawthorne’s mother. Millions of dollars were poured into the attempt to clone Joan Hawthorne’s dog, Missy, a husky-border collie mix.
They picked up where American scientists left off, and dog cloning was achieved within two years with the 2005 birth of Snuppy, an Afghan hound manufactured from cells taken from a veterinary student’s dog.
Hawthorne, under the auspices of Bio Arts, later teamed up with Hwang Woo Suk, one of the lead scientists on the Snuppy project who opened his own lab after being fired from the university.
First, he had Hwang clone Missy, resulting in a dog named Mira, but when the clone was delivered to Joan Hawthorne she didn’t want her. She told a New York Times reporter at the time the puppy was too rambunctious.
Then Hawthorne and Hwang teamed up to produce and sell more clones. They held a “Golden Clone Giveaway,” in which a free cloning was offered to the winner of an essay contest, and an online auction where five winning bidders, offering upwards of $150,000, had their dogs cloned.
A second South Korean company RNL Bio, with help from another of Snuppy’s creators at SNU, was also cloning dogs — and it produced the first one sold to a customer not connected to the industry, a pit bull named Booger, five copies of which were cloned from the dead dog and, eventually, brought home by the California woman who owned him.
RNL pulled out of cloning pet dogs in 2011, not long after the publication of my book, “DOG, INC: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
Hawthorne had already stepped away from the business by then. In September of 2009, Hawthorne pulled out of the partnership with Hwang, citing, among other reasons, his concerns that accepted animal welfare protocols — or at least those accepted by most Western countries — weren’t being followed by the South Koreans.
He also, at the time, blamed court fights over patent rights, the high cost of cloning, deformities and abnormalities that occurred in the cloning process, and what he called the “distraction factor” — annoying questions from the media and bloggers about the wisdom and ethics of cloning dogs.
(As a newspaper reporter who wrote one of the earliest articles on commercial dog cloning, then a blogger, and then the author of “Dog, Inc.,” an expose of the dog cloning industry, I’m pretty sure that latter group included me.)
In his interview wih the Mirror, Hawthorne referred to the vast numbers of dogs that it took — up to 80, he said — to clone just one.
And, he said, random dogs used for cloning by Korean researchers were returned to the dog farms they were borrowed from — farms where dogs are raised for their meat.
“That is why I got out,” Hawthorne said. “I couldn’t care less if the cloning business world collapses but I care about suffering.”
Sooam told me, in 2009, that dogs used in the process were returned to the farms. In more recent years, however, Sooam has insisted that both the dogs from whom egg cells are harvested, and those who serve as surrogate mothers, are sent to adoptive homes when their use in the laboratory is completed.
Hawthorne’s remarks came after the birth of Mini Winnie, a dachshund cloned by Hwang’s lab for a London resident who won a contest sponsored by Sooam. As Sooam attempts to spread the word about its unusual service, Hawthorne has taken to speaking out against it.
Hawthorne now cares for two clones of Missy — Mira and Missy Too.
The Mirror reports Hawthorne has more recently been working on cures for human cancer and Alzheimer’s, and the newspaper quoted him as saying human cloning would be safer and more viable than dog cloning.
“Unlike the dog industry, no human would die.”
(Photos: Lou Hawthorne with Mira; Snuppy at Seoul National University, James Symington, winner of the “Golden Clone Giveaway,” with five clones of his former police dog, TrakR, in Los Angeles; Mira at the dog park; by John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, bioengineering, clone, cloned, cloning, cloning dogs, cost, dog cloning, dog cloning book, dog inc., dogs, ethics, first, hwang woo suk, interview, james symington, john woestendiek, lou hawthorne, mini winnie, mira, mirror, missy, missy too, pets, science, seoul national university, snuppy, sooam, technology, texas a&m university, trakr, uk
Sharon Mulcahy, 62, of Richmond, told police she’d arrived at a motel in Baltimore the night before with her “bowels overflowing,” and left the dogs in her car while she checked into a room, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“Ms. Mulcahy stated that she was going to go back downstairs to care for the dogs, but instead decided to go to sleep, leaving the two dogs inside the vehicle for approximately 19 hours,” the police report said.
Temperatures in Baltimore reached the mid-90s on Saturday. Police said one window of the car was cracked open about two inches, but that the dogs — both poodles — had no food or water.
Inside the car, they found a six-year-old brown poodle named Missy dead, laying across the center console. A second poodle, Bear on the floor of the drivers seat. Bear survived.
Police found Mulcahy in the laundry room of the hotel. She was charged with six counts of animal cruelty and two counts of restraining a dog without shelter or food and water.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 4th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, arrest, baltimore, bear, car, charges, death, dog, dogs, heat, left in car, locked, missy, motel, pets, police, poodles, richmond, sharon mulcahy, virginia
Ace and I will be appearing at the Aperture Cinema in Winston-Salem this week for a group discussion following the showing of the animated movie, “My Dog Tulip,” based on J.R. Ackerley’s memoir of his relationship with his dog.
I’ll also be talking about, selling and signing my new book, “DOG, INC.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend.”
If you’re wondering what the human-dog bond, or a memoir about that, have in common with cloning, the answer is:
For, in addition to the profits foreseen by entrepreneurs, it was that bond — tighter-than-ever as the 21st Century arrived– that sparked the attempt to clone dogs, prompted customers to sign up for it and led to the emergence of a fledgling, and highly questionable, pet cloning industry.
And what, after all, is a dog clone but a living, breathing, laboratory re-creation of the past — a memoir you can pet?
The first dog whose cloning was attempted by U.S. scientists, in fact, was a border collie mix who belonged to — you guessed it — a memoir writer. Missy, as it turned out, wasn’t the first dog cloned. South Korean scientists accomplished that first with an Afghan hound, whose clone would be named Snuppy. But Missy was eventually cloned — more than five times.
Cloning wasn’t available in J.R. Ackerley’s day (the British writer died in 1967), but given the love he expressed for his German shepherd, given his many unsuccesful attempts to breed her to another purebred “Alsatian,” given the void she filled in his life and the one her passing left in it, he might have considered it, if it had been.
“Tulip,” whose real name was Queenie — publishers opted to change it, fearing its gay connotations might be too titillating for stuffy old 1950’s England — spent 14 years with Ackerley, and according to some accounts he never quite got over her death.
“She offered me what I had never found in my life with humans: constant, single-hearted, incorruptible, uncritical devotion, which it is in the nature of dogs to offer,” he says in the book, written while she was still alive.
The movie — though, like the book, it doesn’t shy away from dogs’ bodily functions — is charming and charmingly animated, drawn and directed by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, and narrated by Christopher Plummer, in the role of Ackerley. It also features the voices of Isabella Rossellini and Lynn Redgrave.
It tells the story of a man who, having all but given up on finding an “ideal friend” in the human world, finds one in a canine — the first dog he’s had in his life.
I’ll be leaving my ideal friend home tonight, but Ace, if he feels up to it, is scheduled to join me at the theater Wednesday night.
The movie starts at 8 p.m., both nights, with the discussion following. The Aperture Cinema is at 311 W. 4th St. in downtown Winston-Salem.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, alsatian, animals, aperture, bond, book, book signing, cinema, cloning, dog, dog inc., dogs, friends, german shepherd, human, ideal friend, jr ackerley, loss, love, man's best friend, memoirs, missy, my dog tulip, north carolina, pets, queenie, snuppy, tulip, unconditional, void, winston-salem
A St. Petersburg, Florida, police officer shot and killed two dogs Sunday night.
Chris Clark, 44, said he was walking his Rottweiler, Quincy, and his landlord’s Chesapeake Bay retriever, Missy, when he heard a police officer shouting at him — Officer Slobodan Juric, who was investigating a complaint about a suspicious person in the area.
When Clark stopped, a third dog, unleashed approached Missy and the two exchanged growls. Quincy’s leash got wrapped around him. Clark fell and the dogs started fighting.
Clark told the St. Petersburg Times that he was grabbing his dogs’ collars, trying to pull them away, when Juric yelled “mad dog” and pointed the gun at Missy.
Clark said Juric fired one shot into the dog, pointed the gun at Quincy and fired another round, then fired two more shots into Missy.
“We’ve begun an internal affairs investigation,” said St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman Mike Puetz. “There will be a statement taken from (Clark) and from everybody who was a witness in the case, to try and discern the totality of the events and the appropriateness of the (officer’s) action.”
Juric, 25, has been with the department for more than a year. He was formerly a freelance photographer for the St. Petersburg Times.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 14th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, chesapeake bay retriever, chris clark, dog, dog walking, dogs, fight, florida, investigation, kill, kills, law enforcement, missy, news, officer, ohmidog!, pets, police, quincy, rottweiler, shooting, shoots, slobodan juric, st. petersburg, walking
Mira — the first cloned dog in America — has turned one.
It was one year ago last Saturday that a clone of Lou Hawthorne’s family dog, a border collie-husky mix named Missy, was born in a Korean biotech lab.
Efforts to clone Missy began in 1997, when a longtime family friend of Hawthorne’s, Arizona billionaire John Sperling, funded a research project at Texas A&M University called the “Missyplicity Project.”
In 2000, Hawthorne launched a company, Genetic Savings & Clone, to continue the research that started in Texas, but it too failed in its dog cloning attempts. Despite cloning numerous cats, GS&C closed in 2006.
Hawthorne continued his quest, and in 2007 formed BioArts International, partnering with Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, a laboratory in Korea headed by Dr. Woo Suk Hwang, who was part of the team at Seoul National University that cloned the world’s first dog, Snuppy, in 2005. While Snuppy was verified as a clone, Hwang was fired from the university after being accused of fraudulently reporting he had cloned a human embryo.
The cloning of Missy, and birth of Mira, were achieved under the direction of Hwang, with whom Hawthorne contracted for the service.
Four more Missy clones were produced, after which BioArts announced an international dog-cloning auction, called Best Friends Again, which sold all 5 available cloning slots in July, raising over $700,000. All those clonings are being done at Sooam as well.
BioArts reports that the first client clones were recently born, but declined to provide further information, including the identity of the clients.
Mira, who I met last month, is something of a local celebrity at the Mill Valley, California dog park she frequents.
Hawthorne says Mira bears a striking resemblance to Missy, and also shares some of the donor dogs behavioral quirks, “like her love of broccoli and her tendency to steal my socks.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 12th, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: best friends again, bioarts, biotech, birthday, cloned, clones, cloning, dog, dogs, korea, lou hawthorne, mira, missy, missyplicity, pet, pets
The San Marcos police chief has reprimanded the officer who delayed two college students as they tried to rush their dying dog to a veterinarian, the San Antonio News-Express reported today.
Officer Paul Stephens, who said, “It’s just a dog,” as, he held the pair beside Interstate 35, received an oral reprimand and counseling, Police Chief Howard Williams said Tuesday.
“We sustained the complaint that was filed,” Williams said. “We made him watch the tape with his supervisor and he was counseled on how to improve his performance.”
But Williams said he believed his officer’s assessment that the dog was not alive when he pulled over Michael Gonzales for going 95 mph on the highway after midnight Aug. 5.
Gonzales and his girlfriend Krystal Hernandez, both Texas State University students, were rushing their teacup poodle, Missy, from San Marcos to an all-night vet clinic in New Braunfels after the dog choked on her food and went limp.
The couple pleaded with Stephens to allow them to get the dog to the clinic and then turn themselves in later, or to let Gonzales stay and get his speeding ticket while Hernandez completed the trip alone. Instead, they were kept at the scene for almost 20 minutes waiting for Stephens to issue the ticket as he chatted with two other officers who arrived.
The students say the dog died while they waited.
Gonzales said Tuesday he thought an oral reprimand was not sufficient.
“That’s not really a punishment at all,” he said. “I don’t feel a person like that should be working in law enforcement.”
A man and his girlfriend who were rushing their sick dog to an emergency veterinary clinic were pulled over by police in San Marcos, Texas, and, despite their pleas, forced to wait 20 minutes for a ticket to be issued.
“Chill out,” the officer reportedly told the speeder. “It’s just a dog. You can buy another one.”
Michael Gonzalez was allegedly driving 95 mph when he and girlfriend Krystal Hernandez were pulled over after midnight Aug. 5 as they headed south on Interstate 35 toward a clinic in New Braunfels. The teacup poodle, Missy, died while the pair said they waited 20 minutes for Officer Paul Stephens to issue a ticket, according to an Associated Press account.
“This was not our finest hour,” said San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams. Williams said the department began an investigation after Gonzalez filed a complaint over the incident.
Gonzalez and Hernandez said the dog started choking at home, then threw up and went limp. After they were stopped, they pleaded with Stephens to allow them to continue and later turn themselves in. They also said they offered for Gonzalez to stay behind while Hernandez drove with Missy to New Braunfels.
Gonzalez said Stephens then talked with two other officers on the scene and didn’t allow him to leave for 20 minutes. By then, Missy was dead.
“It was not handled right by our officer,” Chief Williams said, “but whether there was a violation of our policy that is subject to punishment, I don’t know.”
It seems to me if it’s not, it should be, and Stephens should get his walking papers. If you think taking his job away seems too severe, well, chill out, he can always get another one.