What became of the puppies after cloning client didn’t pay?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2008:
The bizarre backstory to the reported first-ever commercial
dog cloning, reported in the July/August 2008 edition of ANIMAL
PEOPLE, gained another chapter on September 24, 2008 when Joyce
Bernann McKinney, 58, repeatedly called Friends of Animals
president Priscilla Feral at her home and then spent nearly two hours
on the telephone to ANIMAL PEOPLE.
McKinney sought help in a last-minute effort to win
possession of the five pit bull terrier puppies whom RNL Bio of
Seoul, South Korea claimed in August 2008 to have cloned from the
frozen ear of McKinney’s deceased pet Booger.
McKinney reportedly paid $50,000 to RNL Bio to clone Booger,
but never actually gave the firm any money, she told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
She delayed payment, she said, pending receipt of independent
laboratory confirmation that the puppies were Booger’s offspring,
and pending the sale of her house to raise the price.
The cloning team was led by Lee Byeong-chun, a former
assistant to Hwang Woo-suk, whose 2004 claim to have cloned human
embryos and extracted stem cells from them was exposed a year later
as false. However, Hwang Woo-suk and Lee Byeong-chun had verifiably
cloned a dog, and reportedly cloned more than 20 dogs before cloning
Booger. At a September 4, 2008 press conference Lee Byeong-chun
also claimed to have cloned a Japanese retriever who can sniff out
human cancers, and two Afghan hounds who were clones of the first
successfully cloned dog.
McKinney initially tried to have Booger cloned by a Texas
firm, Genetic Savings & Clone, she told ANIMAL PEOPLE. Genetic
Savings & Clone had reportedly cloned a cat for $50,000, but went
out of business in 2006. McKinney said she spent months tracing the
founders and pursuing legal action to recover Booger’s frozen ear,
before turning to RNL Bio.
McKinney said that if she failed to pay RNL Bio the $50,000
they expected by September 28, 2008, the company had threatened to
use the cloned puppies in stem cell research. McKinney had little
hope of obtaining the cash by the deadline, she said, and had been
living on Social Security disability insurance until the Social
Security Administ-ration found out about her deal to clone Booger and
cut her off, saying that if she could pay $50,000 to clone a dog,
she did not need financial aid.
Neither RNL Bio nor Seoul National University, Lee
Byeong-chun’s employer, responded to ANIMAL PEOPLE inquiries about
McKinney’s allegation that the puppies would be used in experiments,
the fate of the puppies, and what became of the two surrogate mother
dogs who carried the cloned embryos to birthing.
McKinney denied some of the more colorful tabloid accounts of
her history that surfaced after she appeared at a Seoul press
conference with the claimed Booger clones, and confirmed others.
In particular, McKinney denied that she tied up and raped a
Mormon missionary in England in 1977, for which she was criminally
charged. She and an alleged accomplice jumped bail in 1978, left
England, and were never tried.