Who left the poo? Property owners use DNA to ID neighborhood dogs

9:16 AM, Jun 12, 2012   |    comments
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (USA TODAY) - Property managers across the nation are turning to a CSI strategy to battle dog poo. They're using DNA technology to match which canine is responsible for leaving the piles so their owners can face fines.

Just the idea of of using the technology people are used to seeing on the Crime Scene Investigation TV shows was enough to get residents at Legends at Taylor Lakes, an upscale Montgomery apartment community, to clean up their act.

"We sent out letters to residents about what we were going to do," said Joe Johnson , property manager. Legends has been using the service for about six weeks. "The problem of owners not cleaning up after their dogs just disappeared."

PooPrints, a division of BioVet Pet Lab, developed a process in which DNA samples can be collected from dogs. The samples then can be used to determine which dogs are leaving waste behind. The company, based in Knoxville. Tenn., markets the service to property management companies, apartment complexes, condos and homeowner's associations. The company now has clients in 28 states, Israel and Singapore , said Eric Mayer, director of business development. Mayer said PooPrints, the only company currently providing this service, is working on a patent for its technology.

Clients collect samples of waste and send them to the PooPrints lab. "We can perform an exact DNA matchup with the pets in our database," Mayer said. "The results won't come back as showing a beagle left the pile of waste. It will be the beagle in Apartment 3A left the waste."

Kendall Wahlert , a resident of Legends in Montgomery, likes the idea. She was recently walking Bo, her miniature Australian shepherd, around the complex. She had a plastic bag tied to the handle of her retractable leash to clean up any mess he left behind.

"I clean up after Bo, and when I see where other people haven't cleaned up after their dog, I clean those piles up, too," she said. "So I'm for anything that would mean fewer piles."

The service works, said Michele Mann, regional property manager at United Residential Properties in Macon, Ga. The company manages residential properties in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. A test at a complex the company manages in Knoxville started six months ago, with the remaining properties getting on board about two months ago, she said.

"We have 1,968 units total," Mann said. "We require our residents to clean up after their dogs. I would say 95% to 97% of the dog owners follow the rules.

"Since using the service, we have seen our waste problems almost disappear. We fine residents $150 if they don't clean up after their dogs. Now we can have proof of which dog is responsible, so we know which owner to go after."

Getting the DNA sample is $29.95 per dog, and each sample test is $49.95, Mayer said, Each client has their own policy governing how the costs are absorbed or passed along to residents.

 

USA TODAY/KARE TV

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