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Replicating Superstar Working Dogs
Korean Customs Service clones drug-sniffing canines.

The Korean Customs Service has long bred and trained their own drug sniffing canines to work at airports throughout the country, but it has proved to be a costly endeavor. Typically only 10-15 percent of puppies even pass the behavior test just to qualify to begin training. Of those dogs, only 30 percent graduate from the program, an investment of over $40,000 per pup, an expensive operation that produces mostly dogs that are adopted out as pets.

South Korean scientists now believe they’ve found a way to boost the success rate to 90 percent by cloning. Their first experiment, a litter of seven puppies cloned from Chase, a talented drug-sniffing Labrador Retriever, in 2007 are already showing tremendous potential.

As puppies, all seven passed the initial behavior test and six of the seven graduated from the training program and are now working at airports throughout South Korea. The seventh dog dropped out of the program due to an injury.

On top of the prodigy litter’s extraordinary passing rate, the Korean Customs Service has reported that the dogs, like Chase, have shown superior performance compared to other working canines.

I’m still unsure about the ethical implication of cloning dogs but I certainly see the positives. Besides saving money, higher passing rates means less dogs need to be adopted out, opening those homes to other pups. In addition, if the Korean Customs Service's success can be replicated, cloning could have a huge impact on other working canines, like guide dogs.

Check out New Tang Dynasty Television's coverage of the puppies:
 

What are your thoughts on cloning working dogs?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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