DNA Tests for Dog Poop Crap All Over Responsible Owners
People who don’t scoop are a problem, but treating everyone like a criminal isn’t the way to help.
Big Brother is watching your dog take a dump now. An apartment complex in New Hampshire is the latest place to take extreme measures to catch dog owners who don’t scoop their pets’ poop. The association keeps a DNA sample from every dog living there on file and tests the poop left behind to match it to its owner, using a company called PooPrints.
Owners who don’t clean up after their dogs are a huge and massively annoying problem. As a dog owner who does actually scoop, it irritates me when my neighbors don’t. It’s gross if you step in it; it can spread disease; it gives the rest of us a bad name; it’s an over-arching metaphor for self-entitlement and laziness. Access and privileges to formerly dog-friendly areas often get revoked for everyone when one self-important non-scooper refuses to clean up.
But registering dog DNA is excessive. It seems like it would be expensive, especially if they aren’t successful in catching and fining the owner. If the poop problem is that rampant, how many times a day do they have to perform the test? If they are performed in-house, does this mean the complex has a lab or testing area that is taking up space that could be used for resident amenities, like a fenced-in dog run with plenty of baggies and garbage cans? Are they sending the tests out, using up lab technician time that could be spent actually helping improve the health of animals? Dog DNA has been used to determine breed makeup in mutts, which can help owners take precautions against breed-specific diseases. That seems like a much more effective use of a lab’s time than matching poop so you can fine someone.
It also feels like a weird invasion of privacy. Sure, there’s not really much else someone can do with animal DNA on file and this is probably one of those “if you aren’t doing something wrong it won’t be a problem” situations, but it seems like the complex has stopped treating its residents like adults and started acting like they’re a group of inmates. It really insults the pet owners who do scoop — which is the vast majority — by using fear and keeping them under a constant watchful threat. It’s kind of like when you have to leave your bag in a cubby to shop in certain stores — because of the actions of a few the management feels justified treating everyone like a criminal. I won’t shop in those stores and I wouldn’t live in an apartment complex that wanted to take my dog’s blood. Cigarette butts are disgusting, too, but if landlords wanted to keep every smoker’s DNA information on file there would probably be a massive outcry about privacy.
Why not just install cameras? Yes, you would still feel like the watchful eye of the complex is looming over you, but it would be equally effective in getting the job done and have the added bonus of increasing overall safety. Cameras over the areas where dogs are more likely to be walked would also be a deterrent against home break-ins and car thefts. Instead of just treating pet owners like criminals, it would help the actual safety of the whole complex.
In reality, poop is one little thing you have to deal with to get all the benefits of having a pet. Even the most vigilant of scooper will occasionally miss a piece or be out of bags, so as long as the problem is relatively small, maybe places should just leave it be. Punish people when you catch them walking away from a giant load, sure, but don’t treat everyone like a problem just because they have a dog.