No one likes stepping in a mess left by another person′s dog. As recently reported, more and more apartment dwellers are getting apartment dogs which adds to the problem. A new company, PooPrints, has begun offering its services to owners of apartment complexes to help motivate owners to pick up after their pets. Using DNA testing, apartment complexes in Lebanon, New Hampshire and Rockville Center, Long Island are now able to match a saliva sample from all of the dogs that live in the complex with any offending dog excrement.

PooPrints is a subsidiary of BioPet Vet Labs Inc. and was created with a number of goals in mind. Keeping public grounds clean has aesthetic and cost considerations, but the most important reason for using this service is environmental. According to PooPrints′ website, an average of 276 pounds of waste are produced each year by just one dog. After combining that number with the large number of dogs owned by people worldwide, that number grows to 20 billion pounds of waste produced each year, 40% of which is not picked up.

If it is not properly disposed of, that waste can cause a number of health and environmental concerns. It can easily enter local lakes, streams, and ponds, carrying a number of diseases such as parasites, bacteria, and viruses. This creates the risk of spreading these diseases directly to humans through accidental contact with these bodies of water. The danger increases when dog excrement is left in areas where children play. Children often put their hands in their mouths, which can lead to transmission of these diseases to humans.

Reception to this new method of holding owners accountable for cleaning up after their dog′s messes has been mixed. Some people had no problem with giving out their animal′s DNA, or even paying another small fee if it means their precious pooch is still able to reside with them. After all, it only gets expensive if they neglect to pick up after their dog.

However, there are those who feel that this method of tracking is too invasive. Some people are very private, and even something as seemingly small as tracking dog excrement is seen as a violation of that privacy. It makes people worry about the possibility of more and more control being exerted over the individual until almost no rights exist anymore.

Others are concerned about malicious actions from their neighbors such as at the apartment complex in New Hampshire. The only repeat offender denied the second charge, claiming that someone else in the complex was trying to deliberately get this person in trouble. This person claimed that someone must have watched where the excrement was thrown away, removed it, and placed it back on the ground. While this claim is not completely impossible, the complex owner did not see the possibility of such malicious intent and dismissed the argument.

This creative new method of catching lazy owners may not be the only solution to the problem, but it is certainly the most interesting. Only time will tell if this catches on, becoming a common practice in gated communities and apartments, or if it is only a fad that will fade away with time.