Richard, who builds footballers’ houses for a living, said: ‘I’d had family pets as I’d grown up but Max was my first pet. He has seen me go through becoming a father, buying homes and divorce, he has always been by my side.
‘I wasn’t definitely sure this is what I wanted to do, but now I know I want to keep a bit of Max with us.’Max was one of nine dogs living at Richard’s home in Silsden, West Yorkshire. With partner Laura Jaques, 33, they have a bull mastiff called Harvey, a golden retriever called Chloe, shih tzus Dinky and Alfie, and two boxer clones called Chance and shadow, who were created from the DNA of their dead predecessor, Dylan. They have one of the surrogate mums called Sassie (the other one, Hope, has since died) and a mixed breed dog they are raising after rescuing it on a trip to Korea, with a view to rehoming.
Richard was the first known person to get his dog cloned in the UK, after Laura’s dog Dylan died aged eight from a brain tumour in 2015. Devastated at having to watch her grief, Richard remembered an article he’d read on cloning and got in touch with the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul, South Korea.Cloned puppies are made through a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer, using surrogates mums rescued from centres across South Korea.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: There are approximately 600 million dogs in the world. It is estimated that nearly 400M of those dogs are strays.
If the pregnancy is successful, an exact replica puppy of the deceased pet will be born around 60 days later.
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A few months after that, the puppy will be flown to the UK for a ‘cloning reunion’ with the owner of the original dog.
Richard is going out to Korea in a couple of days to choose his own surrogate.
He said: ‘I am hoping to choose a dog that I can help.‘We will be bringing the surrogate dog home with us and we will look after her too, just like we did with Chance and Shadow’s surrogates.’
He can then expect to have his new dog home by Christmas.Richard, who is now an ambassador for the company and has set up Dog Cloning UK, will only have to pay the expenses.
Richard said Sooam Biotech was a non-profit organisation that used cloning as a way of raising money for research into diseases with hereditary links such as Alzheimer’s and cancer, and its work cloning endangered animal species.
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He said: ‘The dog cloning is very popular with celebrities lining up to clone their dogs.
‘We are a nation of animal lovers and cherish our dogs.’