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Old 01-31-2009, 04:54 PM   #1
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Default [News] Encore! Couple spend $155,000 to clone dead dog

Encore! Couple spend $155K, clone dead dog - TODAY: Pets - TODAYshow.com - video of the couple's interview

Encore! Couple spend $155,000 to clone dead dog
Their beloved Lab had died of cancer; ‘we have gotten negative feedback’


Today show
By Michael Inbar
TODAYShow.com contributor
updated 10:49 a.m. CT, Wed., Jan. 28, 2009

The miracle of life made an encore for Edgar and Nina Otto. A year after their beloved yellow Labrador retriever, Lancelot, died of cancer, the Florida couple welcomed a cloned copy into their home Tuesday. They’ve dubbed their doggie double “Lancelot Encore.”

Speaking live with Al Roker via satellite on TODAY Wednesday, Edgar Otto said that it only took the 10-week-old puppy a few hours to assume his forebear’s place of preeminence in the family’s large menagerie, which includes nine other dogs.

“This morning, when the pack runs from the bedroom into the kitchen, he led the pack, which the old Lancelot did,” Edgar told Roker. “This is a puppy, 10 weeks old, and he led the pack!”
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Nina added, “We noticed that he bonded immediately, within an hour, with every other pet in the house.”

Springing into auction
To be sure, the Ottos love their animals. On their 12-acre spread in West Boca, Fla., the couple tend to four birds, 10 cats and six sheep along with their kennel’s worth of pooches.

But Lancelot always occupied a special place in their hearts: Edgar called Lancelot “an unbelievable, humanlike dog, a true companion.” Thus the Ottos had the foresight to have DNA frozen from Lancelot six years ago.

Then, last June — six months after Lance’s death — they learned the Northern California biotech firm BioArts International was holding a dog-cloning auction. They threw their hat in the ring, and won.

The cloning didn’t come cheap — the Ottos shelled out $155,000 for the opportunity. But it worked. BioArts partnered with Dr. Hwang S Woo-Suk, of the South Korea biotech research firm Sooam, to bring a second Lancelot into the Otto household.

An egg containing the late Lancelot’s DNA was placed in a Korean dog to create Lancelot Encore. Once the pup was able to leave his birth mother and go out on his own, he was flown from South Korea to San Francisco before finally making his way to Miami International Airport, where the Ottos were pacing with anticipation.

Spitting image
“He came out of the chute and he actually ran to us, so it was amazing,” Nina Otto told Roker. “He looked just like my original Lancelot, so I was thrilled. I had been getting updates and pictures over the past 10 weeks, but the real thing is what I wanted to see.”

While Lancelot Encore acted positively puppylike on TODAY, squirming and licking the faces of his new owners as they talked, Roker asked the Ottos whether it seemed “a little kooky” to spend six figures to create a new dog in their old dog’s image.

Edgar explained that the family is hardly hurting: His father, Edward, cofounded NASCAR, “so I won that lottery.” On top of that, Edgar himself started a successful medical company.

But even with their family’s good financial fortune, Nina Otto sold some of her jewelry to pay the big ticket to create Lancelot Encore.

Edgar and Nina Otto with Lancelot Encore, clone of their late dog Lancelot.
“I can always have jewelry,” she told Roker. She added the couple entered the dog cloning lottery last summer, when “the country was not in the shape it is right now.” But when Roker asked if they would do it today, they admitted, “we would still do it.”

Still, the couple have their critics. Dr. Sara Pizano, of Miami-Dade County’s animal services department, told the Miami Herald that for the price the Ottos paid for having Lancelot cloned, “we could do spays and neuters for six months.”

Edgar Otto told the paper he donates considerable sums to his local Humane Society — and promised that if the Ottos bring an 11th dog into their home, it will come from a shelter.

He admitted, “We have gotten some negative feedback from people on the price.” Yet, as Lancelot Encore squirmed in his arms, he added, "But we feel it is worth it.”
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:27 AM   #2
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I heard about this on the radio a few days ago.. I have to say it has been something that stuck in my mind.

I won't judge the family for what they've done, as I know the unrelenting pain that losing a beloved pet can bring. That being said, even if I had the financial means, I would never clone Freeway. I feel like it's playing God, so to speak, not to mention that fact that it's closing off my heart to love another animal that needs a loving home! We have so many puppies and dogs out there with no families to love them, why in the world are we cloning dogs that have passed on? I know that for some, just getting another puppy isn't enough to help with the grieving process (I know it wouldn't have been with me), however grieving and loss are natural parts of life and we are meant to feel it and learn from it. To me, it just goes against the natural order of life and loss...
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:30 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by jenn1381 View Post
I heard about this on the radio a few days ago.. I have to say it has been something that stuck in my mind.

I won't judge the family for what they've done, as I know the unrelenting pain that losing a beloved pet can bring. That being said, even if I had the financial means, I would never clone Freeway. I feel like it's playing God, so to speak, not to mention that fact that it's closing off my heart to love another animal that needs a loving home! We have so many puppies and dogs out there with no families to love them, why in the world are we cloning dogs that have passed on? I know that for some, just getting another puppy isn't enough to help with the grieving process (I know it wouldn't have been with me), however grieving and loss are natural parts of life and we are meant to feel it and learn from it. To me, it just goes against the natural order of life and loss...
Very well said!
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:47 AM   #4
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I don't know if I would ever do it. My animals mean the WORLD to me, but they are each special in their own ways and I wouldn't want to replicate that. I would give another animal a home that would be just as special, but in their own unique way and let the memory of my past animals live on. I would love to have all of my animals here with me, but the fact of the matter is, there are a ton of animals already here, hurting, and need homes. If people continuously just cloned their current animals, these animals on the streets and in shelters would never find homes to love them. We already have a big enough problem with that already.
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Old 02-05-2009, 03:46 PM   #5
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I don't know if I would ever do it. My animals mean the WORLD to me, but they are each special in their own ways and I wouldn't want to replicate that. I would give another animal a home that would be just as special, but in their own unique way and let the memory of my past animals live on. I would love to have all of my animals here with me, but the fact of the matter is, there are a ton of animals already here, hurting, and need homes. If people continuously just cloned their current animals, these animals on the streets and in shelters would never find homes to love them. We already have a big enough problem with that already.
I agree 200%
My babies are all unique, there could never be a Raindrop II, or Rocky II, etc. I have a lot of love to share, and could spread that love by getting another dog that needed a forever home.
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Old 02-05-2009, 06:07 PM   #6
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West Boca~explains it all
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Old 02-06-2009, 12:08 PM   #7
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I think this is pretty crazy, besides, it would be assuming that all of the dog behaviors/personality is genetic cause, otherwise, even if its a clone, he will end up being a different dog
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Old 02-11-2009, 10:25 PM   #8
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I'll play devils advocate. I lost Toby in November at 17 years old. He was with me for half my life. I do not go a day without thinking about him. I still shed tears and always will. I could never afford 155K. But if had the opportunity I would do it in a heartbeat. Nobody knows where we go or where our pets go after death. So do we know if we will ever see each other again? I'd rather grow old with the same dog.
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Old 02-12-2009, 04:49 AM   #9
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Cloning only replicates the dog's looks....not the personality. I understand they loved this one particular dog, however, there are a lot of yellow labs out there.

I imagine they're in for a surprise if they expect the "same" animal.
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