A Boca Raton, Florida, couple paid a California firm $155,000 to clone their Labrador retriever, Sir Lancelot, who died a year ago due to cancer. Lou Hawthorne, a chairman of biotechnology company BioArts International, hand-delivered the 10-week-old puppy to his owners earlier this week.
Edgar and Nina Otto first began to consider cloning Sir Lancelot approximately five years ago.
"I said 'Well, you know, it wouldn't hurt to have his DNA frozen,' and that's what we did," Nina Otto explained.
After being one of five families to bid and win a BioArts auction for an opportunity to clone their dog, the Ottos got the chance to put their departed Labrador’s DNA to use. The DNA sample was sent to the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul, South Korea, a cloning-service provider to BioArts. Researchers then moved the DNA again, only this time into an egg. BioArts reports November 18, as the day that Lancey was born. Ten weeks later, the Ottos became the first of six BioArts clients to obtain their clone.
Lancey is surrounded by nine other dogs at the Otto household, which has held several dogs in the past, as well. Somehow, Sir Lancelot managed to stand out among the others. He was a “prince among dogs,” as Edgar Otto called him.
"Sir Lancelot was the most human of any dog we've ever had," Edgar Otto said. “[Sir Lancelot ] was a very, very, very special dog to us. And we've given a lot more to the Humane Society than we've ever spent on this project."
The Humane Society of the United States, on the other hand, does not agree with the commercial cloning of animals.
The organization’s Website explains, "Given the current pet overpopulation problem, which costs millions of animals their lives and millions in public tax dollars each year, the cloning of pets has no social value and in fact may lead to increased animal suffering...For those looking to replace a lost pet, cloning will not create an animal identical to the one who is gone; cloning cannot replicate an animal's uniqueness. Cloning can only replicate the pet's genetics, which influence but do not determine his physical attributes or personality."
As for the Ottos, the replication of their beloved, departed dog’s genetics is enough. Edgar Otto explained that he understands Lancey might differ from Sir Lancelot, and he added, "If he's different, we're not going to love him any less."
Edgar Otto is the son of the late Edwin Otto, a “motorsports pioneer,” who held a role in NASCAR’s founding, according to www.ottomotorsports.com.