Do you or don’t you? Pick up after your dog that is. Call it an eyesore, an embarrassment or a public health issue, doggie doo doo is in the news. And now, thanks to tactics that would make CSI investigators proud and be a fitting topic for a Seinfeld episode, it looks as if your dog’s DNA may incriminate you if you fall into the latter category.
The issue had so enraged residents at The Scarlet Place condominiums in Baltimore that the condo association considered mandating all the residents give their dogs DNA cheek swabs. After reporter Jill Rosen posted the original story in the Baltimore Sun, it hit the Internet and went global. When the association met again to debate the merits of the idea, cooler heads prevailed and the idea was put on hold.
It turns out the company, BioPet Vet Lab – that advertised it could catch the offenders by keeping a database of all the condo dogs’ DNA and then matching the offending debris to the offending dog or rather owner (someone from the condo association would have been responsible for collecting a sample and mailing it in a sealed container to the company) – may have never tested an actual field sample. But as Jim Simpson, president of BioPet told ABCNews.com about communities that use the service “what we’re finding is that most people, after it’s been implemented, clean up after their dogs.”
Residents were also concerned that testing didn’t really address the problem, it merely offered consequences afterwards. Others wondered how one would go about convincing Fluffy or Fido that getting their checks swabbed was a good idea. There was even some speculation that testing might take an ugly turn if a neighbor, irate about another issue, managed to secure and “plant” a sample from someone’s dog, thus resulting in false incrimination.
But with approximately 77.5 million owned dogs in the United States (averaging 1.7 dogs per owner) according to the Humane Society of the United States, and more apartments, condos and hotels than ever that are pet friendly; this is an issue that’s not likely to go away.
It’s estimated that there are four million tons of dog waste a year, posing serious health hazards for children, adults and the dogs themselves. According to the Center for Disease Control, dog waste transmits several parasites, including roundworm and Cryptosporidium, both of which causes gastrointestinal illnesses in humans. The waste is also a magnet for heartworms and tapeworms which pose serious health risks to your dog. Left long enough, the waste washes into storm drains and from there works its way into rivers, lakes and streams, polluting our water supply.
In Europe where dogs are welcome pretty much anywhere their owners want to take them, including restaurants, there is zero tolerance for scofflaw owners. In recent years fines for not picking up after dogs have ranged from the equivalent of $600 in Paris to $750 in London per incident.
So the next time you walk your dog, do a good turn for both your dog (and remember what people think of your dog is often based on what people think of you as a pet owner) and your community and pick it up!