Ken (left) and Henry were created using DNA plucked from a skin cell of Melvin, the beloved pet of Paula and Phillip Dupont of Lafayette, La.
It’s a typical morning at the Dupont Veterinary Clinic in Lafayette, La. Dr. Phillip Dupont is caring for cats and dogs in the examining room while his wife, Paula, answers the phone and pet owners’ questions. Their two dogs are sleeping on the floor behind her desk.
“That’s Ken and Henry,” Paula says, pointing to the slim, midsize dogs with floppy ears and long snouts. Both dogs are tan, gray and white, with similar markings. “I put a red collar on Ken and a black collar on Henry so I can tell who’s who.”
Ken and Henry are genetically identical, though not exact replicas. They’re clones of the Duponts’ last dog, Melvin — created when scientists injected one of Melvin’s skin cells, which contained all of his DNA, into a donor egg that had been emptied of its original DNA.
Ken and Henry are two of only about 600 dogs that have been cloned since scientists at Sooam Biotech, a suburban company near Seoul, South Korea, developed the technology to create cloned canines.
The Duponts sat down with Shots to explain why they decided to clone Melvin.
Two years ago, Paula and Phillip Dupont paid $100,000 to have their mutt Melvin cloned by a laboratory in South Korea. They are so pleased with the results they may do it again.
“He was different,” says Phillip Dupont. “Of all the dogs I had, he was completely different.”