12/09/2013 11:38 EST | Updated 02/08/2014 05:59 EST

Doggy DNA Database Lets Condos Track Repeat Offenders

Oliver Gerhard via Getty Images
DNA technology is making scientific breakthroughs worldwide, and now you can find it at the dog park.

Eric Mayer is director of business development at Poo Prints, a DNA waste management system designed for apartment communities, condominium and homeowners' associations.

The program targets dogs residing in a particular community, by collection their DNA profiles with a simple mouth swab. Those swabs are sent to Poo Prints and logged in a database.

If other neighbourhood residents come across a mess on the sidewalk, they can scoop a sample and send it to the lab who will match it to the mutt responsible.

"When we first started back in 2010...people kind of looked at us a little puzzled and said 'you're doing what with what?' But nowadays it's overwhelmingly positive reactions. I think most people now realize that to be a responsible pet owner and to be environmentally conscious, you have to clean up after your dog. And our program really kind of  cuts to the heart of that and provides accountability," he says.

Poo Prints started in the United States but has now extended into Canada. Franchises are up and running in Fort McMurray and Calgary, with new programs starting in Vancouver and Toronto.

So far, it's mostly used by condo boards and other multi-unit buildings to encourage tenants to tidy up after their pets.
For the most part, once dogs are registered, the owners are much more conscientious about clean up. But if they aren't, it's quick to track the culprit.

"We had, we call her a repeat offender whose pet was caught 18 times. And when they finally registered their dog with the cheek swab, all 18 of those samples matched the dog and they 'fessed up," Mayer says.

This is just the start for Poo Prints, the company also has plans for systems to compost pet waste and convert it into a natural gas that can power streetlights.


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