CITY, Mo. — As winter turned to spring at the
Wau-Lin-Cree Apartments, the dog piles revealed
themselves, lumps of unscooped doo just waiting to greet
the sole of a sneaker.
tenants complained to spur property manager Karen Peevy
dog’s DNA doesn’t lie. With this in mind, Peevy
turned to the Internet to confirm that, indeed,
CSI-style forensics could match a mound of poop to the
critter that deposited it.
are starting a program known as PooPrints," she
wrote last month to the renters along Line Creek Drive
in Kansas City, Mo. "We will need a cheek swab DNA
sample of all community dogs."
cheek-swabbing began last week, just one small
reflection of a growing pet-DNA industry.
given the problem on the ground, who wouldn’t hope
this industry succeeds?
Wau-Lin-Cree management along is a Tennessee outfit with
the same name, PooPrints. At a cost of $35 for each dog
owner in the complex, PooPrints will collect, analyze
and store genetic profiles in a global database,
enabling sleuths to match future fecal samples to the
dog that dumped it.
been so excited about this," Peevy said. "Once
we have every dog swabbed, we’ll go through a very
thorough cleaning of the grounds before we start
collecting and testing new stuff that shows up.
hope is that people on their own will start picking up
after their pets."
of the offending mutts will face a $50 fine to cover the
cost of sending each poop sample to the testing lab.
Eviction would be the ultimate penalty.
thinking of making it three strikes and you’re
out," Peevy said.
regional representative Charles Nash, whose territory
covers four states, said the 286-unit Wau-Lin-Cree
complex is his first Kansas City client.
less than a year, he said, he’s lined up 65 clients,
all of them apartment properties and homeowners
most pets, DNA collection is painless — just 10
seconds of having a cotton swab rubbed along the inside
cheek to gather up loose skin cells.
always get some dissenters who say you’re violating
the dog’s privacy rights," said Eric Mayer,
director of business development at BioPet Vet Lab in
lab receives the swab samples by mail. Poop samples will
follow, also in the mail — just a nickel-sized slice
shaken in a plastic vial containing an inert solution to
give it, in Nash’s words, "a milk-shake
maintenance crew will be tasked with that job.
DNA has many applications.
many, in fact, that industry watchers see a future in
which registering the DNA of domestic animals and
livestock will be as routine as vaccinations.
no longer need blood to get an animal’s DNA profile.
You can get a lot now with a simple swab," said
Randy Smith, accounts manager for DDC Veterinary lab in
the human side of DNA sampling, which we also do, you’re
dealing with some serious and sad issues," said
Smith. "You’re looking there at custody disputes,
crimes committed, people in prison who’ve been wrongly
convicted. With pets, it’s just a lot of fun.
one, you can identify the poopetrators among us."
you can reclaim a lost pet with proof positive it is
small number of labs today will analyze pet DNA to
confirm the parentage of purebred show dogs. Online DNA
storage services can help ranchers recover stolen cattle
freshly plucked feather from your parrot will allow DDC
Veterinary to determine the bird’s gender.
DNA has even helped solve awful crimes.
2009, Clay County, Mo., prosecutors used genetic tests
on Henry Lee Polk’s cats to convict him in the slaying
of a Kansas City man.
single cat hair recovered from the rummaged-through
pockets of Polk’s victim contained secrets about the
animal’s mitochondria, which are passed from mother to
offspring. Scientists at the University of
California-Davis discovered the same genetic makeup in
two cats prancing around Polk’s residence.
was the first time that cat mitochondrial DNA was used
in a court of law," said Beth Wictum, director of
forensics for the University of California-Davis School
of Veterinary Medicine.
said the school’s Veterinary Genetics Laboratory is
the only U.S. lab accredited to analyze pet DNA for
criminal investigations. In one case, traces of dog
excrement found in the tread of an Indiana man’s shoes
placed him at the scene of a triple homicide, for which
the man is now serving a life sentence behind bars.
as crimes go, unscooped dog poop is minor by comparison.
Ipswich, Mass., animal control officer Matt Antczak is
among the multitudes tired of dog owners not picking up.
He’s asking the town council to become what may be the
first municipality in America to require DNA
registration on every resident canine.
by his neighbors as the "poop Nazi of
Ipswich," Antczak blamed dog waste for high levels
of E.coli that can fill local streams and shut down the
Ipswich would take out an $80,000 loan, Antczak said,
the town could collect and file away DNA samples from
all of its 2,000 dogs at no expense to their owners.
need all dogs in to make it work," he told The
Star. "I just want the people who are guilty to
we can prove who’s violating and fine them $200 a
whack," he said, "we’ll have that $80,000
loan paid off in two and a half years, maybe
tenant Patricia Haylan was among the first this week to
schedule a swabbing appointment in the clubhouse for her
was happy to do so.
dog droppings around here were getting outrageous,"
Haylan said. "And I knew it wasn’t Darby. I pick
up after him."
Haylan’s trouble, the PooPrints people provided a pack
of biodegradable clean-up bags and a couple of
Milk-Bones. Haylan also left the clubhouse with the
assurance that Darby’s genetic profile will be
included in a BioPet registry for positive
identification should he run off and someone else try to
has a microchip, too," she said, "so I’m
tenant, Charles Christianson, wasn’t so certain the
doo-testing that’s to come would be foolproof. What if
his dog Cookie rolled around in another mutt’s mess?
Who then would be tagged the offender?
any event, "I think Cookie knows something is
up," Christianson said. "The other day she
went behind a bush to do her thing."
specter of DNA testing also can have a weird effect on
people, said Jenny Armer, property manager for a Des
Moines, Iowa, apartment complex that signed up for the
PooPrints program last year.
you have that scientific match (on a poop sample), the
owners won’t argue," Armer said.
come up to a pile and seen people walk out and
confess," she said. "They’ll say, ‘Hey,
that’s me. Don’t send it away.’"