SAN DIEGO - The same DNA technology that has solved cold case murders is now being used to crack down on a whole new class of criminals: dog owners who don't clean up after their pets.
"Unfortunately, people leave surprises in my yard, but I always carry plastic bags, so I can clean up those surprises," said dog owner Ted Stevens.
Now, BioPet Vet Lab ,a company in Knoxville, Tenn., has developed technology that is says can identify the dogs that leave unwelcome calling cards on neighborhood lawns. The system, called Pooprints, can help communities manage and enforce a pet clean up policy, according to company officials.
Here's how it works in an apartment complex or condominium community: The property management company or homeowners association builds a DNA database by collecting cheek swabs from the dogs that live in the community. When doggie dung turns up unexpectedly, the affected resident can send a small sample to a lab. DNA testing reveals the identity of the canine culprit.
It sounds quite effective and a bit draconian.
"It seems a little hard core to me, but I guess some are rather offended by that," said Donna Deatrick. "It's a big issue. We take care of our lawns here. We don't want to walk out and look at nasty, smelly, dog droppings."
Eric Mayer, the director of business development for BioPet Vet Lab, says dog doo is more than just a nuisance. The dog population has exploded in this country, he said. Each dog creates 275 pounds of waste every year, and 40 percent of that stays on the ground. Twenty percent of contamination in waterways can be traced back to doggie dumpings, Mayer said.
"It's just rude. I walk my dogs and carry bags. It's not that big of a deal really. If it's your dog, you should clean up after it," said veterinarian Dr. Farley.