Apr 28, 2014 7:00 PM by Kari Beal
It's a genetic marvel to many who see them. Two cloned dogs live right here in Lafayette. They are two of only 400 in the world today courtesy of a lab in South Korea. This procedure is not allowed in the United States due to ethical and humane concerns. But for many pet owners, cloning isn't controversial. It's just a way to extend the years of a man's best friend.
Ken and Henry are two clones of their genetic replica Melvin.
"He's very smart. I've had other dogs, but he is one of the smartest one's I've ever had," Lafayette Veterinarian and owner of the dogs, Dr. Author Dupont said.
That's one of the reasons Dupont had his dog, Melvin, cloned. This procedure typically costs around $100,000.
"They act the same. They have the same personality and everything else," Dupont said.
The only noticeable differences between the dogs are a few spots. Dupont explained that a female's womb can turn on certain genes, thus why certain patches of fur will be a different color.
"That's the only thing the surrogate mother has an effective on," Dupont said.
Dupont and his wife only planned on having one dog, but to their lucky surprise the surrogate mother bore another one.
"They thought she was pregnant for one and they opened up the uterus and found Henry," Dupont said.
The book "Dog Inc." has caused concern about what happens to the surrogate mothers. But the book focus around the South Korean company RNL Bio. Dupont had his dog cloned at a different facility: Sooam Biotech. As a consultant for this company he confirms the mothers are treated as pets.
"Oh no they are very careful about that. They are selective and given back to families," Dupont said.
Dupont is so happy with his decision; he said he would likely create another clone when the puppies grow old.
Most of the animals cloned at Sooam Biotech have specialized skills. Those dogs are used by the United States law enforcement and as companions for people with special needs.