Will Boulder, Colorado, Start Testing Dog Poop DNA?

A city leader wants to follow Ipswich, Massachusetts, in considering DNA testing as a way to catch and stop dog-poop scofflaws.


You might remember a weird-sounding plan from Ipswich, Massachusetts, last month: Animal control officer Matt Anczak, known not so fondly among the locals as the “poop Nazi” proposed that the city spend $80,000 to build a DNA database of all the dogs in the area so that owners who didn’t pick up after their pooches could be fined. (Note: When people start openly referring to you in the press as a “poop Nazi,” it’s time to reassess your path in life. Really, it is.)

Mock Anczak if you will, but he’s not the only one who dreams of starring in CSI: Dog Park. City Councilwoman Mary Young of Boulder, Colorado, has proposed the idea be applied to the holders of “green tags,” which allow owners to have their dogs off-leash while walking on park trails, according to the Daily Camera.

Whereas critics in Ipswich believed the program would be too massive to implement because it would have involved getting samples from more than 2,000 dogs, in Boulder there are about 35,000 people who hold green tags. Anyone has to admit that that is a lot of dogs to sample.

So far, the company that does the testing, PooPrints, primarily contracts with apartment complexes and other small, enclosed areas. Despite the best efforts of Anczak in Ipswich, the company hasn’t signed any deals with municipalities. The original cheek swab, to collect the DNA, costs about $35; testing a fecal sample and comparing it to the database costs about $60 to $75 per poop.

The green tag program has become highly controversial lately, and not just because of the DNA proposal. There have been many changes proposed; green tag holders are supposed to be able to control their dogs with voice and sight commands, yet there’s no requirement that they demonstrate that fact. A study by the city showed that about half the dogs with green tags didn’t come when called. Supporters of the green tags say that the study had flawed methodology.

At OhMiDog, John Woestendiek has deftly critiqued some of the problems with the DNA idea:

Yes, dog poop can be hazardous to our health, and harmful to the environment.

So can the feces of all the non-domesticated animals we live among, but we don’t feel compelled to prosecute for pooping. So, too, can the dumpage of corporate entities, like the thousands of tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River by Duke Energy, coating 70 miles of the river with toxic sludge …

Finding clean sources of energy — that’s a use of technology I like. Using DNA to solve murders (and clear the wrongly convicted) seems a good use, too.

But gathering, packaging and mailing dog poop so technicians in Tennessee can comb through it and test it, by comparison, seems a silly use of our technological muscles.

That’s it, really. DNA testing has a certain sexiness to it, thanks to endless police procedural dramas, but in the end, it’s going after the problem with an awfully big gun.

Via Daily Camera

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