Dusting for dog-crap in a fancy condo

The condo association at Scarlett Place, a posh Baltimore building, have proposed to DNA-test all the dogs on the premises, and use DNA from errant dog-turds to identify feckless owners and fine them $500 per dog-pie.
Using all the dog swabs, BioPet would create a doggie database of sorts for the complex. It would compare all those samples to the mysterious doggie-doo. When BioPet identifies the guilty pooch, the owner would pay a $500 fine.

"We pay all this money, and we're walking around stepping in dog poop," resident Steven Frans told The Sun. "We bring guests over and this is what they're greeted by."

Frans is the board member who proposed the plan, calling it a reasonable and objective way to find the culprit.

DNA Could Solve Doggie-Doo Caper (via Freakonomics Blog)

(Image: A New Way to Complain About Dog Poop, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from aoifecitywomanchile's photostream)



  1. Not saying that I would…. but I can think of sooo many ways to abuse this system. Not saying I would however.

    And how does this even work?
    DNA can be quickly taken from poop?
    And matched?

  2. The could take a cue from the Brits and install CCTV cameras in the area. Might me less invasive. Or maybe not.

  3. Hummph – I’m shocked. I’ve done work at Scarlett Place a couple of times over the years (engineering, not – ahem – biohazard assessment) and this sort of decision making is par for the course. The board there is dysfunctional to the extreme, far more than your average condo board.

    Oh yeah. It’s also worth mentioning that this condo sits right on the harbor close to some high density residential areas. If I lived nearby and needed to walk my dog I’d probably traverse their property regularly just to walk by the water. Of course, I’d also pick up after my dog but that’s not a universal practice.

    1. If you don’t live there and just traverse their property to get to the waterfront, what’s to stop you from telling the condo association to bugger off?

  4. Considering that what usually happens in these situations is an outright ban on dogs I think this is a nice alternative.

  5. What’s less expensive and/or creepy? Surveillance cameras catching the poop-leavers or doggy DNA testing?

    Or maybe a crime-stoppers-esque hotline? “Shit disturbers”?

  6. I’d be shocked if we found out “resident Steven Frans” owns stock in, or knows someone involved with BioPet…

    Shocked I say

  7. Thumbs down. I’m sorry, but I have far too much respect for the privacy of these proud Canine-Americans.

    Isn’t DNA testing still expensive and time-consuming? This sounds like using a sledge hammer to place a push pin.

    I’m thinking Poop Patrol is the way to go. There are always busybodies in every complex. You keep them out of everyone else’s, um, poop and you tackle the “fresh steamer” problem, too. Win-win.

  8. I live in an appartment where someone allows her dog to pee in the hall on a regular basis. Also some other people hawk lugies on the wall. I have thought about DNA testing every time i see that.

    I hope these early adopters work out all the kinks.

    People who can keep their pets responsibly cared for without inflicting nuisances on others can be left alone and those that can’t should be punished.

  9. That’s why I always make sure my dog poops on top of another dog’s poop. Jamming, you see.

  10. SO the fine is $500. How much is the test? It seems to me like this is a money losing proposition that’s mostly aimed at one person (“we know it was you and we’ll prove it!”)

    1. 500$ will cover the lab testing, and then some. The ‘then some’ will go into repaying the initial database-building and the USEs (unknown shitting entities).

      Mirroring current trends in explosives, it would also be possible to ditribute food additives that contain nano-scale code-dust. Dog owners with their pets found non-coded would be required to pay for the removal of all USE droppings.

      Unrelated tidbit: in German, the words for code (‘Code’) and shit (‘Kot’) have indistinguishable pronounciations.

      1. Does the 500$ fine be enough for the pricey testing when there are significant noncompliers? If even a low level of noncompliance puts the policy into the red, it’s no good.

        Also, pouring bleach on the dog poo is easier than cleaning it up. You could also collect your neighbor’s poo and keep it in case you want to screw with them later. One could also taint the doggie DNA with your own by spitting/urinating on the poo as well.

        Oddly enough, I’ve heard of kitty DNA testing being good enough to convict a crook, but nothing about using doggie DNA. I’m sure this science would be more useful in identifying the source of dog attacks, etc.

  11. I’d rather have the dna testing for the dogs than the cameras. I see the camera solution as more open to abuse than dna testing the dogs and poop.

    And the 500 dollar fine will have to do since they probably can’t get the “wear it as a mustache” penalty.

  12. Huh. There’s something I’ve never seen before: the words “posh” and “Baltimore” right next to each other.

  13. Got to give give the condo association credit for coming up with a creative idea…

    Seriously though, how do they think they’re going to get a DNA sample any of the dogs? They’ve got no authority to swab privately owned animals.

  14. They’ve got no authority to swab privately owned animal

    Is that true? Why not? Condos are private organizations, and people living in them already agree to a range of arbitrary rules in exchange for their membership.

  15. Personally, I’m sick of dog crap. I took a walk this morning on a lovely park/trail – big sign said, dogs must be on leashes, pick up after your dog. And of course, none of the dog people had their precious pooches on leashes… the animals ran ahead of their human companions, shitting everywhere.
    My yard is full of my neighbors’ dogs crap, my town bike trail is full of dog crap from unleashed dogs, our lovely town park is covered with dog crap, despite the town putting up a bag dispenser and a sign begging folks to pick up after their dogs (the dispenser is still full of bags; nobody uses them)..

  16. A couple of years ago this very topic was covered in the Jeugdjournaal (Dutch TV news for kids). Luckily for Dutch pooches it was an April Fools pun.

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