How One Braintree Condo Solved Its Dog Poo Problem

Doggie DNA testing can actually help catch dog owners who leave their pet's problem behind.


Image Credit: mcoughlin via Flickr

Today in funny headlines, we learn that a Braintree condo complex is submitting any unattended dog poo it finds on the grounds for DNA testing and fining residents whose dogs’ genome matches the profile.

“Some people thought it was a joke. I basically said on the memo, ‘CSI comes to Braintree,'” Barbara Kansky, general manager of the Devon Wood condominiums told CBS Boston.

The Braintree complex now requires owners to pay $50 to have their dog submit a DNA sample to the complex’s database. When residents report finding dog poo on the grounds, a maintenance worker can send off a kit using a service called Poo Prints, run by a company called BioPet. Lab techs then test it against the doggie DNA database. If there’s a match, the owner pays a $150 fine. Kansky tells CBS that since implementing the program, they’ve barely had a problem. Just the threat of accountability seems to have people cleaning up (their act.) This is, humor elements aside, kind of a cool, innovative, cheap way that technology has improved communal living in our cities.

Regular listeners of the This American Life radio show might recall a 2010 episode that extensively profiled the Poo Prints service and featured one of the first residences in America to implement the DNA testing regime. Give it a listen if you want to know literally everything about the process of dog poo DNA testing (and/or you’d like to hear host Ira Glass say “poo” over and over.)

Glass, of course, notes in an interview with BioPet President Jim Simpson that this kind of service really works best in a gated community:

Ira Glass: Now I would think that another problem in terms of just getting this product out is that there are lots of places where there might be dog waste in front of a building, but it’s in a city or it’s on a street where all kinds of dogs come by who don’t live in that building. And so testing all the dogs in that building isn’t going to help you.

Jim Simpson: That’s correct. Yeah, it definitely has to be a defined area. Most apartment complexes are a gated type community and they have a defined area for the dogs to go to the restroom, so it seems to work quite well. We do have some small islands that are looking at the program as well.

In other words, the many, many Boston residents who submit complaints about dog crap on the sidewalk shouldn’t get too excited. This probably isn’t the silver bullet you’ve been waiting for.