DNA testing has solved a thousand murders on CSI. Can it help solve the dog poop issue as well?
Cities and municipal parks departments have tried all sorts of ways to discourage dog fouling, from giving away free bags to mailing turds back to owners. But now they’re really getting tough, doing DNA-testing so they can fine owners retroactively.
Starting next year, the east London borough of Barking and Dagenham will require owners to submit feces samples for their pets. If council enforcers find poop, they’ll run it through a poop database. Owners can be fined about $125, both for the pooping incident and for not registering samples in the first place.
The borough is working with Tennessee-based PooPrints, which already contracts with more than 1,000 apartment communities in North America on similar schemes. In most cases, the existence of the regime is effective enough, says Eric Mayer, the company’s business development director.
“This is really a behavior change-type deterrent. Our experience with the apartments here is that very few, if any, offences will take place,” he says.
Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation, in Indiana, also has a DNA-registration and testing program that uses PooPrints’ lab services.
Mayer says a lot of people complain about big brother intrusion. But he argues that dogs are not a protected class and therefore don’t have many rights, even if their owners might. “Pets are a property and a privilege. Really, this is similar to stop signs and streetlights–it’s just rules that have to be obeyed for society to function properly,” he says.
There may be a secondary uses as well. For example, dogs become more traceable, less susceptible to theft, and identifiable in case someone sues for a biting incident. Your dog may become part of the dragnet, but she won’t be wrongfully accused of something she didn’t commit.