Clone ranger sniffs out airport drugs

August 12, 2009
South Korean customs officials handle cloned sniffer dogs checking baggage at Incheon International Airport in July. A cloned sniffer dog has proved itself smarter than the average pup by detecting drugs at South Korea's main airport just weeks after starting service, officials said Wednesday.

A cloned sniffer dog has proved itself smarter than the average pup by detecting drugs at South Korea's main airport just weeks after starting service, officials said Wednesday.

The dog, named Tosun, detected three grams (0.1 of an ounce) of narcotics in an envelope stored in a tightly zipped bag at Incheon International , the Korea Customs Service said in a statement.

It was the first such achievement by a cloned animal on government service.

"It is a great achievement," Kim Dae-Keun, a customs official working in the narcotics-related department, told Yonhap news agency.

"Compared with ordinary sniffers, which have to undergo a longer period of getting accustomed to working conditions, Tosun made a marked score less than a month after being deployed."

Tosun is one of seven cloned in late 2007 by scientists at Seoul National University from a renowned Canadian-born sniffer dog.

One pup dropped out because of an injury. After training, the remaining six were deployed at Incheon airport and other regional customs offices in July to help crack down on narcotics trafficking.

They were claimed to be the world's first cloned drug-sniffers.

There are 15 sniffer dogs at Incheon, of which three are clones.

The customs statement said Tosun's achievement shows cloned dogs are much better than ordinary dogs at detecting narcotics, and it plans to deploy more.

(c) 2009 AFP

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