DNA from a German shepherd that pulled the last survivor from Ground Zero is used to create litter of pups

Credit: Damian Dovarganes/AP

James Symington is about to find out whether you can clone heroism.

The retired Canadian police officer – who took part in the rescue operation after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York City – is scheduled to take possession Wednesday of five puppies cloned using DNA from his beloved late German shepherd Trakr, the rescue dog credited with finding the last survivor in the smoking rubble of Ground Zero.

Symington, who won the opportunity to have Trakr cloned in an essay contest last year, first met his new pups in an emotional encounter on June 14.

“They’re identical – down to the smallest detail,” Symington said in a statement released by BioArts International, the California company that arranged the intricate cloning procedure. “Few dogs are born with exceptional abilities – Trakr was one of those dogs.” Symington said that if the puppies have the same abilities as Trakr, he intends to put them to work as search and rescue dogs.

Trakr died in April at the age of 16. The actual cloning using his DNA took place at the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in South Korea and was led by Dr. Hwang Woo-Suk, who produced the world’s first canine clone in 2005. The goal was to create one clone, CBS News reported, but five genetically identical puppies resulted from surrogate pregnancies. The first of the pups was born on Dec. 8 of last year and the last arrived April 4.

To read more about the cloning of Trakr and comment on the story, visit PEOPLE Pets.