Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on May 27, 2012
DNA testing isn’t just for crime forensics labs hunting down murderers anymore.
Now at least one DNA lab in Minnesota is being used to identify the owners of… doggie doo.
The problem of negligent dog owners not cleaning up after their best friends has become so bad at one Minnesota apartment complex, property managers have hired a DNA lab to create a dog DNA registry to nab the perpetrators. And from that registry, dog poop left unscooped on the apartment grounds will be tested and compared.
Dog feces identification is becoming big business, I kid you not.
From CBS Minnesota, Apartment Hires DNA Lab To Tackle Dog Poop Problem:
Rosedale Estates North was having problems with dog owners not cleaning up after their dogs.
“It was bad,” said dog owner, Melody Pomerenke. “I would have to have a separate pair of shoes to go outside. It was not good.”
In fact, the poop problem got so bad that property managers hired a company called Bio Pets Vet Lab to start a dog DNA registry.
As part of the lease agreement, DNA swabs are taken from a pet’s mouth and sent to the Bio Pets lab, where they keep the DNA on file. Should a pet owner not pick up after their dog, the poop is sent into the lab to be tested for a match — and the guilty party is identified.
“It’s been positive after that initial laughter,” said property manager, Cheryl Gallo. “We just started last month.”
Pomerenke’s Chihuahua Dino was one of the first to submit DNA. He’s innocent…for now. Good thing, too, because the fine for the first offense $100.
“You can see someone letting their dog go to the bathroom, and they will still deny it,” Gallo said. “This way, there is no denying it. I thought it was a great idea from the beginning.”
Rosedale Estates just had their first offense. They have a suspect in mind, and the testing is taking place at Bio Pets Vet Lab.
Minnesota isn’t the only state where dog poop DNA testing is being implemented to prompt dog owners to clean up their dogs’ feces. Many other states and other countries are turning to DNA testing to crack down on dog poop crimes.
Florida property managers have been using DNA labs for a while now. Reported in June 2011 by Palm Beach Post News, DNA samples will determine if Jupiter residents aren’t picking up behind their pooches:
JUPITER — If your pooch poops, you pay.
Plagued with pets that do business in all the wrong places, dog owners in the Village of Abacoa, a condominium association of 458 units, must pay a $200 fee starting Aug. 1. The money will pay DNA Pet World Registry to take the dog’s genetic fingerprint and keep the information on file.
Doggie droppings found in condo common areas will be collected and mailed in a plastic tube to the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company. If the poop matches the pooch, the owners can be fined up to $1,000. If they don’t pay, a lien can be placed on their home, said Susan Nellen, property manager for Versa Property Management, which manages the condo near Roger Dean Stadium.
Not everyone supports the policy.
“This is nuts. They will be testing all kinds of poop. Is this America?” said Troy Holloway, who owns one of the condos.
But managers say they have no choice. Dogs are defecating and urinating in elevators, in stairwells, on carpets and in the lobby, as well as common areas outside. The condo association is spending $10,000 to $12,000 a year replacing and cleaning, said Matthew Brickman, president of the Village of Abacoa Condominium Association.
“The smell is disgusting. Residents are embarrassed to have company. Dog crap is everywhere,” Nellen said.
The process works like this:
Beginning Aug. 1 and until Aug. 31, a dog owner must pay a $200 one-time fee for a swab to be taken from their dog’s mouth. DNA Pet World Registry uses the swab to determine the dog’s DNA sample. The dog is issued a identification tag to wear on its collar. Owners who pay after Aug. 31 will be charged $500.
A maintenance person from Versa Management will collect marble-sized samples found in restricted areas. The samples go in a leakproof plastic container about the size of a small perfume bottle containing DNA stabilization solution. The container is mailed to DNA Pet World, where the identification test is done.
If the illegal poop matches a registered dog, the owner can be fined. If the problem persists, the animal can be confiscated, Brickman said.
“It’s not the dog’s fault. Many are trapped inside all day while their owners work. That’s why I don’t have a dog,” said Brickman, who lives in the condo.
He figures about 40 percent of residents own dogs.
Feces identification is a booming business. DNA Pet World and PooPrints – its motto is “Match the Mess through DNA” – are spinoffs from BioPet Vet Labs. They started in October. By the end of the year, they expect 300 American franchises, Mayer said.
From Larry Olmsted, Forbes, Is DNA Testing Of Dog Poop Forensic Science Gone Too Far?:
Virtually every communal space, from sidewalks to beaches to parks to hiking trails has become a battleground between dog owners and non-dog owners, but perhaps more importantly, a civil war between those dog owners who pick up and those who don’t. In most such cases, it appears that a small minority of the irresponsible are ruining it for everyone.
This anger-inducing issue goes on around the country, and the world, with no solution in sight.
Except maybe DNA testing.
Outside of beaches, city parks and sidewalks, one common boiling over point in the poop wars is planned subdivisions, residential developments, and apartment buildings, where dog owners and non-owners share close quarters, adjacent homes, and often common or commonly owned areas including roadways and landscaping. It was in such a community near me, just over the border in New Hampshire, that our local paper reported the other day that residents with dogs would have to submit to DNA testing of their animals as a condition of renting. The development would then build a database of its canine residents and could compare poop found in verboten places with the master list and identify the culprit, a la the OJ trial or way too many TV crime shows to count. The company supplying these particular DNA kits even has a CSI-style name, PooPrints. It is a division of Bio Pet Vet Lab, which first introduced DNA testing as a way for adopters or dog rescuers to establish the lineage and breed components of their dogs through DNA testing. The PooPrint process costs $30 per dog and $50 per poop investigation. PooPrints reports that more than 20 housing developments nationwide have signed on. An apparently upscale condo complex in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor that has battled issues like poop in its elevators (?) is another reported example.
At first I thought this was a humorous local story until I started to consider the implications. Our governments, local, state and federal, by their very nature, love to jump onboard any program that is extensive, expensive, intrusive, and produces data. There are by most estimates nearly 80 million dogs in this country alone, so to implement a dog DNA database on a large scale we are looking at a few billion dollars just to register dogs, and that is without administration, which would naturally be bloated and require a high-tech office complex inside the Beltway.
That is without the ongoing cost of testing poop, or the fact that DNA testing often does not work, and the creation of an entirely new litigation process and resulting body of law devoted to appealing DNA-evidence based dog poop fines. This in turn would create a new profession for expert testimony about feces, and perhaps memorable lines like, “If the pooper scooper does not fit, you must acquit!”
A quick Google search of “DNA Testing on Dog Poop” yielded numerous reports, including an entire city in Israel, Petah Tikva, requiring all owners in the municipality to undergo the tests. Germany is another country considering going the DNA database route, as a solution to a problem summed up by politician Peter Stein:
“Just saying ‘it wasn’t my dog’ will not wash anymore.”