Six genetic duplicates of a single Labrador retriever have been working at the
country’s main Incheon international airport and three other customs
checkpoints to deter drug smuggling after completing 16 months of training,
the Korea Customs Service said in a statement Sunday.
They are part of a litter of seven born in 2007 through cloning a skilled
drug-sniffing canine in active service. They were all named “Toppy” ? a
combination of the words “tomorrow” and “puppy” ? but one dropped out of
training due to an injury.
The cloning work was conducted by a team of Seoul National University
scientists who in 2005 successfully created the world’s first known dog
clone, an Afghan hound named Snuppy.
Leading the team was Prof. Lee Byeong-chun, who was a key aide to disgraced
cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk, whose purported breakthroughs in stem cell
research were revealed as false.
But independent tests later proved the team’s dog cloning was genuine.
The agency has said using clones could help reduce costs due to the
difficulties in finding dogs who are up to snuff for the critical task of
sniffing out contraband. Only about three out every 10 naturally born dogs
it trains end up qualifying for the job.
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