DNA Nabs Dog Owners Who Don't Poop-Scoop

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Advances in forensic science have resulted in a worldwide effort to identify dog owners who do not properly dispose of their pets' waste.

Dogs are really just four-legged, furry humans. And now science backs it up!
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Recently, for example, the vice mayor of Naples, Italy, announced an initiative that would use DNA profiling to nab negligent dog owners whose pets leave steaming mounds of number two on city streets.

Close to 5,000 miles away in Jacksonville, N.C., apartment complex owners are also using DNA samples to crack down on owners who do not clean up after their dogs.

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“This is happening all over the world,” Eric Mayer, spokesman for PooPrints, told Discovery News.

PooPrints, a subdivision of BioPet Vet Lab, is processing the dog poo samples from Jacksonville. It's also working with communities in Canada, Singapore, Israel and in 43 U.S. states, including Hawaii.

As for why not all states are participating, Mayer said, “We don’t have any samples coming in from Wyoming, for example, which has a lot of grass and not as many dogs.”

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The process of matching dog owner to poo pile is a two-step process, he explained. First, dogs are registered and cheek swabs are taken to provide cells for DNA profiling. Just knowing that all of this info is on record causes most owners to think twice before leaving behind their doggy’s doo.

“Next, at the tail end of the process, a thumbnail-sized sample of the waste is sent to the lab where it is analyzed for DNA and a match can be made to the dog and its owner,” Mayer said, adding that PooPrints provides special leak-proof containers and spatulas to make the task easier.

“Accuracy for the matches is close to 100 percent,” he said.

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At that point, the guilty owner is then usually fined. In Naples, the fine has been set at 500 euros, or approximately $685.

Many apartment complex owners are now requiring, in their leases, that dogs of tenants undergo DNA testing for such reasons. Naples vice mayor Tommaso Sodano proposes that every dog in his city should undergo a blood test for DNA profiling.

The efforts are in response to a global problem that is no small matter, both literally and figuratively.