Dolly's creators won't copy cats

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BRITISH RESEARCHERS who cloned Dolly the sheep have turned down requests from dog and cat owners wanting copies of their pets, it was revealed last night.

The news emerged as it was disclosed that a Texan millionaire was paying an American laboratory more than pounds 3m to clone his dog.

Dr Harry Griffin, of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh - where Dolly the sheep was created - said: "We have not been offered large sums of money, but we certainly have had a number of approaches by people who want to clone their pets. As far as we are concerned we disapprove of going down this road, because it perpetuates the myth that you can re- create an individual through cloning."

An investigation by BBC 2's Newsnight programme last night revealed that the cloning laboratory at Texas A & M University at College Station, has already received cells from the millionaire's collie-Alsatian bitch, called Missy. It has a two-year deadline in which to produce a replica of the animal.

The programme also claimed that a member of the Saudi royal family was recently approached to fund the cloning of race horses - a move which would breach the strict breeding rules of racing.

Dr Griffin said there were good reasons for not attempting to clone people's pets.

He said: "The technology hasn't reached that point, and in order to clone an animal you need a supply of eggs from donor females and surrogate mothers to carry the offspring.

"Certainly in Britain and Europe the animal welfare benefits of cloning a pet would not be sufficient to warrant experimenting on donors and surrogate mothers. Thirdly, this sort of proposal perpetuates the myths about cloning."