Tuesday, July 1, 2008

World Trade Center Hero Police Dog To Be Cloned

If you're going to clone a dog, it might as well be a hero dog.

A German shepherd named Trakr, a hero of Ground Zero, will be replicated as a detection dog in a cloning experiment announced Monday.

James Symington and Trakr were among first search-and-rescue teams to arrive at WTC in 2001.
Trakr helped locate last human survivor of attack.

"Once in a lifetime, a dog comes along that not only captures the hearts of all he touches but also plays a pivotal role in history." So begins the winning essay submitted by James Symington to the BioArts Golden Clone Giveaway contest.

Symington, a retired police officer who now lives in Los Angeles, and his German Shepherd, Trakr, were among the first search & rescue teams to arrive at Ground Zero following 9/11. Together they braved horrific conditions while searching for both living and dead, ultimately locating the last human survivor under approximately 30 feet of unstable debris.

The canine, now 15, suffers from a degenerative neurological disorder that impairs the use of his back legs. The disorder may be linked to exposure to toxic smoke at Ground Zero, experts say.

The Best Friends Again contest is run by BioArts International, a company that claims to have the sole worldwide license for the cloning of dogs, cats and endangered species.

The company says within 30 days it will transport a sample of Trakr's DNA to the South Korean lab of its partner, Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, which is described as the world's foremost expert in canine cloning.

"We received many touching submissions to our contest, describing some truly amazing dogs," said Lou Hawthorne, CEO of BioArts.

"Trakr's story blew us away. His many remarkable capabilities were proven beyond all doubt on our nation's darkest hour - and we view the work of cloning him as a great honor."

BioArts is holding a global auction of cloning slots next week, with bids starting at $100,000.

The company said Trakr's clone could be in Symington's household in Los Angeles before the end of the year.

"I can't imagine the joy I'll feel that day," Symington said. "To know that part of him is going to live on is just beyond words.

"If the clone has Trakr's abilities, then of course we'll put him into service as a detection dog - and I guess I'll come out of retirement as well."


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