May 19, 2010 -- Think no one will know if you don't scoop your pup's poop?
If some residents at a Baltimore condo have their way, derelict dog owners could be routed out with the help of an unlikely high-tech tool: DNA testing.
When board members of the Scarlett Place condo association meet tonight, they plan to consider a proposal that would require dog-owning residents to submit their pets to mandatory DNA testing -- all in an effort to prevent mounds of poop from piling up.
"We pay all this money, and we're walking around stepping in dog poop. We bring guests over, and this is what they're greeted by. It's embarrassing for me as a dog owner and as someone who lives in this building," Steve Frans, a condo board member and champion of the proposal, told the Baltimore Sun.
"Some people think it's funny. But you know, this seems to be a reasonable, objective way to say, 'This is your poop, you're responsible.'"
According to the proposal, dog owners at the Scarlett Place condo would have to pay $50 upfront per dog to cover the costs of the DNA test and supplies, and then $10 each month to pay for building staff to collect stray poop and send it to a lab for testing. Any negligent dog owner would face a $500 fine.
But some of the condo's dog owners say that supporters of the proposal are barking up the wrong tree.
"At this point, I'm like, it's just pooposterous," Richard Hopp, a Scarlett Place dog owner and attorney, told ABCNews.com. "It's like living in a Seinfeld episode."
As a pet owner who cleans up after his dog, Sparky, he said he doesn't think it's fair that he and other conscientious dog owners should have to shoulder the costs of those who don't scoop their dogs' waste.
A Handful of Communities Use DNA Poop Testing Program
While some residents complain about dog droppings around the building and even in the complex itself, Hopp said he has observed this only on "the rarest of occasions.
"My main concern about this is that the proposal to DNA test all of the dogs in the building is completely out of proportion to any problem that's being presented," he said, adding that money might be better spent on security cameras.
But the president of BioPet Vet Lab, which offers the DNA testing program, told ABCNews.com that in the few communities that use the product unscooped dog waste appears to be on the decline.
"What we're finding is that most people, after it's been implemented, clean up after their dogs," said Jim Simpson.
He said his company launched the PooPrints program earlier this year, and a handful of communities across the United States are already using it.
PooPrints Matches Dog Waste With Canine Offender
Once a community signs on to the program, BioPet sends the building or complex enough DNA ID kits for each pet.
The pet owners or building managers use the kits to swab the dogs' cheeks to collect the DNA samples and then send them back to BioPet, which then stores the results in a database.
"If they ever have a situation, a small portion of that feces is mailed to our lab to see if there is a match," Simpson said, adding that the feces is shipped with a special chemical in a sealed container to preserve the sample.
Once the building knows which pet owner is responsible, he said it's up to the property manager to determine how to handle the offenders. Some buildings fine negligent owners, others list the names in newsletters.
Although none of the PooPrints clients have yet sent back a feces sample from a potential violator, test trials have shown that the technology works, Simpson said.
Still, in Baltimore, the woman who would be responsible for picking up the poop and mailing it in is none too happy about her possible new duties.
"How has it got to this point where we have to have a CSI thing going on?" Rita Shriver, Scarlett Place's building manager, told the Baltimore Sun. "This is just insane."