First British cloned puppy born

Andover Advertiser: Britain's first cloned dog is a dachshund called 'mini Winnie' after the animal it was cloned from (Channel 4/PA) Britain's first cloned dog is a dachshund called 'mini Winnie' after the animal it was cloned from (Channel 4/PA)

Britain's first cloned dog has been born after a £60,000 test tube procedure, a television programme will reveal tonight.

The tiny dachshund puppy, weighing just over 1lb (454g), was born in Seoul, South Korea, at the end of last month following a competition advertised in the UK offering the procedure free of charge.

The dog was copied from a 12-year-old pet called Winnie, owned by Rebecca Smith, a cook from west London.

"She is the best sausage dog in the world, she is desperate to be cloned. The world will be a better place with more Winnies in it. Everyone who meets her loves her," Ms Smith told the Channel 4 programme to be broadcast tonight.

Ms Smith, 29, told the programme that she acquired Winnie when she was 18 years old and the pet had helped her overcome the eating disorder bulimia.

The company that carried out the procedure, Sooam Biotech, has already created more than 500 cloned dogs for owners around the world but "mini Winnie" is thought to be the first British dog to be cloned.

The Daily Mirror reported that a sample of Winnie's tissue was taken and stored in liquid nitrogen before being transported to South Korea.

In Seoul, her cells were put into eggs from a donor dog of the same breed and a cloned embryo was created. The embryo was implanted into a surrogate dog and the cloned puppy was born later by caesarean section.

The development comes after researchers at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh produced Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult in 1996.

Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, who led the Dolly team, told the programme that he believed owners "might be disappointed" by dog cloning.

"I think that the owners might be disappointed - so much of the personality of a dog probably comes from the way that you treat it," he said.

"I think that you would treat a cloned dog, particularly if you had spent 100,000 dollars, differently, so the dog would be different.

"I am sufficiently sceptical that I personally would not have a dog cloned."

Elaine Pendlebury, senior veterinary surgeon for the PDSA charity, said in a statement that they believed cloning was "not an appropriate way" to deal with the loss of a pet.

"We understand that losing a beloved pet is extremely upsetting, and it is important for owners to come to terms with their bereavement over time. Pets are a huge part of family life, providing love and companionship, and the void that can be left can be hard to come to terms with," she said.

"At PDSA we provide support and advice to owners to help them deal with their feelings and come to terms with their loss. We believe that cloning is not an appropriate way to deal with the loss of a pet.

"It is important to remember that manipulating identical DNA does not lead to an identical pet. A cloned pet may look the same but their personality will be different because personality develops through life experiences, including training and socialisation."

:: The £60,000 Puppy: Cloning Man's Best Friend will be shown on Channel 4 at 10pm tonight.

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