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Late rescue dog lives on in clones

James Symington is experiencing an extreme case of deja vu.

The former Halifax, Canada, police officer’s partner, Trakr, died in April. But on Wednesday, Symington took home five clones of the German shepherd as the winner of a contest run by a business that does stem-cell research and microengineering.

In his career as a search-and-rescue dog, Trakr helped recover more than $1 million in stolen goods and sniffed out the final survivor in the rubble of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Symington choked back tears as he described his relationship with Trakr, who was by his side for 15 years.

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“I always knew he’d be with me as long as I needed him,” Symington said. “I think he waited and made sure the time was right.”

Symington said he named the puppies after Trakr’s qualities: Trustt, Valor, Solace, Prodigy and Deja Vu.

He said he hopes the animals will contribute to society just as Trakr did.

The dogs were cloned for Symington after he submitted an essay for a contest called the “Golden Clone Giveaway” run by BioArts International, a Northern California company.

Just because the dogs have the same genetic makeup doesn’t mean they’ll have the same personalities, said Robin Habeger, a spokeswoman for the canine department with the National Assn. for Search and Rescue. “It’s still a crapshoot,” she said.

BioArts’ price for a cloned dog is $138,500, said Lou Hawthorne, the company’s CEO. He said the company, the first in the world to offer commercial dog-cloning services, doesn’t expect it to become commonplace.

“The main reason we did it is because it’s a cool, awesome project,” he said.

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nicole.santacruz@latimes.com


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