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Which Pooch Pooped?
DNA has the answer
iStock Photo

A fancy condominium in the Baltimore area is plagued by a problem facing many neighborhoods around the country and indeed the world. At least one dog guardian is not scooping the poop, and the result is a mess that has residents upset. Steve Frans is a board member who has a dog, and is embarrassed by the mess that residents and guests must deal with. He has proposed a solution to the problem.

Frans’ idea is to require everyone who lives there with a dog to submit a sample of the dog’s saliva and pay $50 for the DNA testing of that saliva. There would also be a $10 per month fee for having the staff scoop the poop that is not cleaned up so that it can be tested for a match. Both saliva and feces contain DNA. Whoever is responsible for not cleaning up the mess (the person, not the dog!) will be fined $500.
Using DNA to identify offenders of this kind is not new. In Petah Tikva, Israel, as Julia Kamysz Lane wrote about in 2008, dog guardians were rewarded with pet supplies for submitting their dog’s poop for DNA identification and offenders whose dog’s poop was found unscooped (based on DNA matching) were to be fined.
Do you think using DNA to identify the offenders is a reasonable option? In what other ways could they solve the problem?

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

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