(CN) – Nearly 40 extra clones of the world’s smallest dog, dubbed Miracle Milly, came out of a contract breach according to the owner of the tiny Chihuahua who sued South Korean animal cloning companies on Tuesday.
Miracle Milly, a black and tan Chihuahua, was crowned the smallest adult dog on Earth, height-wise, by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013. Aged two years old at the time, Miracle Milly topped out at 3.8 inches tall.
Milly had previously fetched the title of the world’s smallest puppy from the World Record Academy.
The dog’s owner Vanesa Semler of Dorado, Puerto Rico, says in a complaint filed Tuesday in Orlando, Florida, federal court that her little dog’s distinctions are now dubious due to the sharing of her DNA by the laboratory she hired to clone Milly.
Desiring to create 10 clones of her petite canine, Semler entered a research collaboration agreement in February 2017 with the Seoul, South Korea-based animal cloning and research company H Bion.
Her complaint acknowledges the importance of researching Milly’s genes for both humans and for bred animals.
Under the agreement, one Milly clone was to go to Semler while the other nine would be used for research purposes by H Bio. But Semler says 49 Milly clones came into the world as puppies through H Bion’s work.
Semler says no one informed her when the other Milly-clone puppies were identified as such through ultrasounds, nor did they verify the clones’ genetic similarities to Milly and report this Semler.
Dozens of Milly clones, and her DNA containing genes related to dwarfism – which made her a worldwide star – have been disseminated to third parties, according to Semler’s complaint. Additionally, she says other parties may have benefited from the use of Milly’s cells without consent.
H Bion’s CEO is Hwang Woo Suk, who runs the nonprofit Sooam Biotech Research Foundation. Semler names all three as defendants, and none responded to requests for comment.
Sooam’s website promises to “prolong the companionship with your dog by bringing back the memories that you have with your friend” through cloning, and offers advice on how to preserve Fido’s cells once deceased – including helpful tidbits like do not put the cadaver in the freezer.
Semler, who declined to comment further on the suit Wednesday, is the CEO of Hollywood Chis, a Chihuahua-breeding company in Florida.
Under the contract, which is included as an exhibit to Semler’s complaint, Semler was to equally own all technology, materials or intellectual property invented through the use of Milly’s cells. Any innovations that came directly from the culturing of Milly’s cells belong to Semler, the contract states.
She seeks damages including exemplary damages under the Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and is represented by Carlos Bonilla of ELP Global.