The Dog Poo Detectives

Failure to Stoop and Scoop Could Soon Be Identified By DNA Testing

By Erik Ryken

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City dwellers are fed up with dog owners who aren’t picking up after their pets. Of course at Get Leashed, we promote responsible pet ownership and value the awesome communities of dog owners across the many cities we travel to. One controversial solution to the poop pickup problem has divided Torontonians over its intrusive method: building management collecting DNA samples in order to track which dogs have not been looked after and penalizing offenders with a fine of up to $300.

This is the strategy of PooPrints Canada, which has just launched in Toronto. Currently, PooPrints is being used in about 1,800 U.S. condo complexes. The company keeps a registry of dog identities via mouth swabs, charging $50 per animal.

Toronto’s “stoop & scoop” by-law already enforces a fine of up to $240 to those caught leaving their dogs’ excrement on any City property. The trouble is that this is very difficult to police, so it makes sense that PooPrints is capitalizing on the detective work.

While the idea is strange, it is not quite as extreme as others. One condo board in Toronto has already proposed to ban pets altogether. It’s worth questioning whether or not DNA testing would strike a middle ground between banning pets and doing nothing about negligent pet owners, and what other solutions could be available.

DNA testing is typically a costly method but it does make a certain judgement of who is at fault since few will admit to leaving their dog’s waste uncollected. However, what would the technology offer to residents if the culprit is from a different building or is an unregistered stool, perhaps a guest on the property? Will visitor dogs have to submit to a mouth swab upon entry? What if a dog has been ill and its waste is impossible to clean entirely? Perhaps funds would be better spent on supplying waste bags and improving trash receptacle coverage.

In any case, opinions circling the use of this novel technology in the fight against abandoned waste will be sure to stir debates.

We hope cities and building management will work respectfully with dog owners to avoid some really, ahem, shitty situations.