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Cloned sniffer dogs off to work

South Korea's customs service says it has deployed the world's first cloned sniffer dogs to check for drugs at its main airport and border crossings.

The new recruits are part of a litter of seven puppies who were cloned from a drug-sniffing Canadian Labrador retriever called Chase in 2007, officials said, and six puppies have reported for duty after completing a 16-month training programme.

The clones are all called Toppy, a combination of ‘tomorrow’ and ‘puppy’.

The customs agency says clones help to lower crime-fighting costs as it is difficult to find good sniffer dogs.

‘They are the world's first cloned sniffer dogs deployed at work,’ Park Jeong-Heon, a customs spokesman at Seoul's Incheon International Airport, told AFP news agency. ‘They showed better performances in detecting illegal drugs during the training than other naturally-born sniffer dogs that we have.’

Only about 30% of naturally-born sniffer dogs make the grade, but South Korean scientists say that could rise to 90% using the cloning method.

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