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Schemes That Use DNA Testing to Enforce Responsibility Proliferate

DNA testing of dog feces isn't just for Israel any more. The January/February, 2009 issue of California Veterinarian contains an article describing a US-based company's...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Feb 7th 2009


DNA testing of dog feces isn’t just for Israel any more.

The January/February, 2009 issue of California Veterinarian contains an article describing a US-based company’s plans to make money by rooting out the identity of people who don’t pick up after their dogs.

Ever wondered which dog left that poop on your lawn? Hard to tell, given that 40 percent of dog owners don’t clean up after their dogs.

Enter genetic testing to the rescue. So far genetic testing of animals has been used to confirm pedigrees, determine genetic predisposition to disease, or identify dogs involved in an attack. However, a genetic testing laboratory in Knoxville, Tennessee is marketing a program which would use DNA to encourage dog owners to clean up after their pets.

Under the proposal, homeowners association, particularly in controlled environments like gated communities or condominiums, would have covenants requiring members to take their dogs to their veterinarian to get their dogs’ DNA, which would then be on file in a pet registry. When poop is found in a public place, it would be bagged and sent to the company, which would analyze it, match the results to the database, and report on which dog was responsible. The homeowners association could then fie the owners of the dog.

I am amazed by the 40 percent statistic, especially since dog feces represents a notable public health hazard. Certain canine intestinal parasites are contagious to humans and spread through feces.

I have a hunch that as DNA testing becomes ever more affordable schemes like the one mentioned in the article will continue to spread.

Photo: On Omotepe Island in Nicaragua nobody picks up after dogs.