1. ITV Report

Britain's first cloned dog born through £60,000 test tube procedure

Britain's first cloned dog has been born from test tube procedure, a Channel 4 television programme will reveal tonight.

The tiny dachshund puppy, weighing just over 1lb (454g), was born in Seoul, South Korea, at the end of last month following a competition advertised in the UK offering the £60,000 procedure free of charge.

Owner Rebecca Smith with her puppy. Credit: ITV News

The dog was copied from a 12-year-old pet called Winnie, owned by Rebecca Smith, a cook from west London.

She is the best sausage dog in the world, she is desperate to be cloned. The world will be a better place with more Winnies in it.

Everyone who meets her loves her.

– Owner Rebecca Smith

Ms Smith, 29, told the programme that she acquired Winnie when she was 18 years old and the pet had helped her overcome the eating disorder bulimia.

The company that carried out the procedure, Sooam Biotech, has already created more than 500 cloned dogs for owners around the world but "mini Winnie" is thought to be the first British dog to be cloned.

A leading expert has said replicating pets is a waste of money and "ethically very dubious," following the birth of Britain's first cloned dog.

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, one of the UK's top stem cell scientists, joined anti-vivisection campaigners in condemning pet cloning.

He pointed out that cloning procedures frequently went wrong, leading to physical defects and ill-health, and even when successful never produced an animal identical to the original.

The puppy Winnie nursing. Credit: ITV News

Britain's first cloned dog, a tiny dachshund puppy weighing just over one pound, was born in Seoul, South Korea, after a competition offering the winner the procedure free of charge.

She was copied from a 12-year-old dog called Winnie owned by London cook Rebecca Smith.

The £60,000 pet cloning is featured on a Channel 4 programme to be screened tonight.

I see no valid justification for cloning pets.

It is a ridiculous waste of money and hope as well as being ethically very dubious.

– Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

But Prof Lovell-Badge, head of developmental genetics at the Medical Research Council National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), suggested Winnie's owner could be disappointed.

In reality, the "new" Winnie was likely to be very different from her clone donor.

Owner Rebecca Smith says 'mini Winnie' is well-loved. Credit: ITV News

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) urged people to be aware of the suffering and death involved in attempts to clone pets.

The puppy not long after birth. Credit: ITV News

Earlier it condemned the competition run by the South Korean cloning company, Sooam Biotech Research Foundation.

Apart from similarity in outward appearance, you would have about as much chance of replicating your favourite pet by choosing one from Battersea Dogs' Home as you would from cloning it.

I personally think that cloning even remarkable working dogs would still be hard to justify, given the inevitable suffering associated with failed attempts.

And the former is likely to be loved more as it will not fail your expectations.

– Prof Lovell-Badge

Dr Katy Taylor, head of science at the BUAV, said: "Cloning is a very unpredictable and extremely wasteful process. "In order to produce just one 'perfect' clone, many puppies with the same genes as a loved animal will be born.

"Some of these puppies will be aborted or will die soon after birth from unpredictable health complications and severe birth defects."

Winnie was cloned from the owner's dog. Credit: ITV News

Another stem cell expert, Dr Dusko Ilic, from King's College London, said: "Cloned animals are like monozygotic (identical) twins - similar, but never the same.

"As time passes by, the differences will be more and more pronounced, especially personality traits. It is an absolute waste of money."

The £60,000 Puppy: Cloning Man's Best Friend will be shown on Channel 4 at 10pm tonight.