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Published:June 29th, 2011 11:36 EST
DNA and the Dog Poop Police: Maybe Science Has Gone too Far

DNA and the Dog Poop Police: Maybe Science Has Gone too Far

By Donna Cavanagh

Are you a dog owner that disregards the Pick Up After Your Pet law? Well, get ready to pay the poop piper because DNA may now be used to match dogs to excrement abandoned on sidewalks and lawns.  Well, to be honest, the desire to pinpoint pet poop is not a national trend. Right now, it`s the brainchild of one disgruntled apartment complex manager in New Hampshire.  Tired of residents not picking up after their dogs, the manager has mandated that each dog living in the complex submit to a DNA test.

The DNA results will be kept on file and compared to the DNA found in each new deposit recovered from the property.  Once the offending dog and owner are matched with the offending poop, the apartment complex will administer sanctions. While at present jail time is not being considered suitable punishment or breaking the poop law, owners of the identified dog will have to pay a hefty fine.

Is this some kind of civil rights violation? Has science gone too far? What happens when the manager finds poop? Does she yellow-tape the scene or make a chalk outline of the evidence?  Does a PSI (Poop Scene Investigation) team come on and gather the clues or is it just a scooper and paper bag moment?  I would think if they are going to resort to DNA testing, this opens the doors to expert opinions offering their own interpretation of the evidence.  

Does the DNA testing take into account if someone framed the pet owner? What if a responsible pet owner has an archenemy or a ticked off neighbor who removes the poop from the trash and leaves it on the lawn for the manager to find?  This DNA analysis could open a Pandora`s Box of legal trouble. There will be lawyers, civil suits and a lot of chaos all for a pile of excrement.  I could make a really good lawyer joke here, but I will be good and refrain.

On a more practical note, what is it with pet owners who can`t pick up poop? It`s sad to say but there are many lazy owners out there. They don`t want their dogs pooping in their houses or yards; yet, they see nothing wrong with strangers having to deal with their dogs` deposits. I, personally, have confronted a person or two who neglected to pick up poop after their dogs have used my mailbox post as their commode.  Both times, I came out of my house with plastic bags and asked them to clean it up. They complied but they were not happy about it. 

One guy was so mad that I made him clean up the waste that he came back again the next day and let his dog poop in the same spot.  Stupid guy, he didn`t get that I work from home and my office overlooks the front of my property. This time, I let him think he won, but later that day, I took a shovel and re-gifted his dog`s package and placed it right outside his front door.  I saw this stunt in a mobster movie. Okay, the mobsters left a thumb at the front door of the person they were trying to intimidate, but I think the poop worked just as well. I never had a problem again..

Some owners recognize their own laziness and hire people to pick up their dog waste in their yards. Believe it or not there are professional poop picker uppers.  Ah, think about the sense of pride parents feel when their kid announces after four years of college that he or she is going into the dog poop removal business. But that kid might be laughing all the way to the bank.  Some of these poop removal companies are franchises.

How do entrepreneurs-to-be opt to own this franchise? Do they say, "Gee, I have a choice between a Dunkin` Donuts, a Jiffy Lube or a pooper scooper company--I think I will go with the crap?" What motivates a person to do this as a living?  I guess the hours are regular and there are no real emergencies. Even in a pinch, an owner can grab a shovel and bag and take care of one or two deposits, right?

While I applaud the ingenuity of the people who came up with this idea, I have to wonder if they financed this business model themselves or did they get venture capitalists on board.  I would have loved to have been a fly in the room when this idea was proposed. Did the poop people use a PowerPoint presentation or a live demonstration?

Anyway, I got way off the track of the DNA analysis of the poop. It`s easy to understand the manager`s frustration with dog owners, but isn`t the DNA thing a bit extreme to catch offenders?  Wouldn`t security cameras work just as well? Maybe if this manager`s tenants realize that their every move is being recorded they will refrain from abandoning their pooches` poop.  I know the old saying about not judging anyone unless we have walked a mile in their shoes, but many of us have walked that mile and stepped right into a pile of dog poop. 

So, be warned: if you have a dog, clean up after it because not only is it the right thing to do, but it will keep the DNA police from knocking at your door.