Couple pays big bucks to clone dog

When Edgar and Nina Otto lost their beloved yellow Labrador Retriever to cancer in 2008, the sudden and traumatic passing left a huge void in their lives.

Nina and Edgar Otto and Lancelot Encore – a $155,000 clone of their former dog.

“We didn’t expect him to die,” Edgar says of Sir Lancelot, 11 years old at the time of his death. “He was much too young.”

Overcome with grief over their late Lab, the Ottos went ahead with a controversial procedure that they believed brought Sir Lancelot back to life: using DNA collected from the prized pooch four years before his death, the Ottos had Sir Lancelot cloned.

The Ottos, well-meaning and certainly well-off financially, won the controversial procedure in an auction back in 2009, eight months after Sir Lancelot’s passing. San Francisco company BioArts performed the cloning process with their South Korean partner, the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation.

The cable network TLC will detail the Otto’s experience in an episode of “I Cloned My Pet” airing May 21.

In a clip of the upcoming episode, Nina Otto explains that the chance to have a piece of Sir Lancelot back was priceless. “I would’ve gone higher,” she says of the massive $155,000 price tag, “I would’ve done anything at that point.”

The cloning process was completed when scientists combined Lancelot’s DNA with an egg from a South Korean Labrador Retriever. The egg was then implanted in an Irish Setter for the gestation period.

Just two months later, 1.3-pound bouncing baby Lancelot Encore – Lancey for short – was born. When the Ottos greeted the puppy at Miami International Airport a short time later, they were overjoyed.

Lancey now lives at the Ottos sprawling 12-acre abode in Boca Raton, Fla. He joins nine other dogs, and a bevy of cats, birds, and sheep. According to Edgar, the group took to little Lancey immediately. “There was no baring of teeth, not even a single growl,” he says. “So, the pack accepted him.”

Though the process was as unexpected as it was unconventional, the Ottos do not regret their decision to purchase the laboratory Labrador. “Did I ever think I was going to spend $150K on a dog?” Edgar muses, “No. This is a really sweet dog, and we’re very happy we did it.”

“I was hoping to get the essence of Lancelot back,” adds Nina. “I know I’ve gotten that. Anything else is icing on the cake.”