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Dog waste DNA identifies owners who don't pick up droppings

May 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dogs and humans have shared cherished relationships throughout history. But what our four-legged companions leave behind is not so cherished.

"Forty percent of dog owners don't pick up their waste," said business owner Kevin Sharpton.

That's a problem Sharpton wants to solve. His business, PooPrints West, promises apartment complexes and home owner associations to turn abandoned piles of doggie doo doo into a "don't doo."

PooPrints West does that by using the same DNA testing police use to track down crime suspects. For example, a residential community signs up for the service It requires its tenants to have their dogs swabbed for a DNA sample, then when some "evidence" is discovered, a nickel-sized sample would be tested.

"All we need to do is collect that waste, send it to the lab and then you can pull the genetic profile," Sharpton said.

That leads you to the dog, and ultimately to the dog's owner, who could then be fined by the landlord or homeowner's association.

"We've seen an average of a $150 fine, which covers all the cost of the DNA sampling," Sharpton said. "There are properties that we have in Florida that go up to $1000."

Is the company's CSI approach to dog droppings a little too extreme?

"When you turn a blind eye to what your dog is doing, then you're not being courteous to your fellow neighbors," said Glendale resident Sonia Montejano.

But there are some who are pooh-poohing the whole idea.

"Is it worth the trouble it's going to cause? People are going to say, 'They're invading my privacy,'" said another Glendale resident, Glenn Delange.

Fran Campbell, a housing rights attorney, says landlords and homeowner's associations could easily require tenants to register their dogs' DNA. But fining them could be a problem in some situations.

"Definitely in a rent-controlled jurisdiction, a landlord would not be able to impose that fine," Campbell said.

Campbell adds that it could be grounds for eviction if proven to be a consistent problem.

PooPrints West is hoping someday to get entire cities signed on to the program so public parks would also be fair game to DNA testing.

"One gram of dog waste contains over 23 million fecal coliform bacteria. That's twice as much as humans," Sharpton said.

That is perhaps the No. 1 reason to crack down on the No. 2 problem.


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