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Puppies of Hero Pit Bull Booger Are World's First Commercial Clones

A dog is not just for Christmas, or even for life. If you've got the cash, it could be for eternity.

South Korean biotechnologists have engineered a pet resurrection that, until recently, seemed commercially impossible: they have reunited a Californian woman with her dearest friend - or, at least, genetic copies derived from the frozen remains of his ear.

More than £25,000 the poorer but weeping with joy, Bernann McKinney, 57, became the world's first paying customer yesterday in the strange new industry of canine cloning.

Held in her arms was a quintet of newborn puppies, genetically identical not only with each other but with the late, lamented Booger, a pitbull terrier who died of old age two years ago.

Declaring the whole affair a "miracle", Ms McKinney said: "They are perfectly the same as their daddy. I am in heaven here. I am a happy person."

Ms McKinney paid a high financial price for the reunion. Even at the knockdown fee offered to her as a first-time cloner, she had to sell her house to meet the cost.

"I had to make sacrifices and I dream of the day, some day, when everyone can afford to clone their pet, because losing a pet is a terrible, terrible loss to anyone," she said.

After ten years of happy companionship, Ms McKinney felt the loss of Booger keenly. This was, after all, a ferociously loyal hound who had once saved her life by fending off an attacking mastiff.

Ms McKinney's hand and legs were savaged in the attack and, she said, it was only via Booger's loyal assistance - fetching her clothes and shoes, bringing her cans of drink and opening doors - that she was able to make it through the long months of recuperation.

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