Only in America

Only in America: DNA testing to prove which neighbor's dog pooped

Faced with dog owners who refuse to pick up after their pets, several apartment complexes are using a CSI-like test to unmask the culprit

The story: Dog owners who don't pick up their pet's poop are a nuisance, but the problem in some apartment complexes is so bad that the management has started treating it like a crime, CSI-style. The 252-unit Timberwood Commons in Lebanon, N.H., is the latest of about 20 properties nationwide to start using PooPrint, a commercially available DNA kit, to match on-file samples of residents' dogs to piles of errant poop. Violators will be punished with a fine. "It's one of the coolest things I've ever done as a property manager," says PooPrint customer Debbie Logan, who manages the Twin Ponds Development in Nashua, N.H.

The reaction: Negligent dog owners who don't scoop are "a huge and massively annoying problem," says Liza Eckert at Death + Taxes. "But registering dog DNA is excessive." It treats all dog owners (and dogs) like criminals, and I can immediately think of several better solutions, like using the testing money for a fenced-in doggie run with bags, or security cameras. And this isn't just "a humorous local story," says Larry Olmsted at Forbes. Taken to its logical conclusion, we're looking at a billion-dollar national dog-DNA registry, and a new branch of law to deal with offending dog-poop scofflaws. If that sounds crazy, consider that Germany is mulling such a doggy-doo DNA database.

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