By Russ and Tiña De Maris
The techno-jazz theme music of “CSI” demands to know, “Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?” The Crime Scene Investigators got a lot of mileage out of determining from DNA samples “who” was responsible for whatever nefarious crime they were resolving. But you’ll find this high-tech crime tool is doing more than solving murders. Dog DNA tests are now pointing the finger—or the paw—at who left the dirty at the crime scene. Will your own Fido be in line for a cheek swab?
Widespread in apartments
Dog-poop dumping has gone high-tech across the country. Got a pooch and want to rent an apartment? Don’t be surprised if the landlord demands a swab from your mutt’s mouth. You’ll then be asked to sign an agreement that you’ll be responsible for cleaning up after Fido. Should you fail in your duty when your dog does his duty, you could be in for a nasty fine. What’s that? Apartment managers have turned into CSIs. A small sample of dog poop is sent to the lab. If your dog’s DNA matches that unwelcome dropping, some landlords are fining for failure to clean up. A typical “fecal fine” is $100. Other apartment managers are charging $250 for the first offense. Taking the bite of canine crime could mean $350 for a second offense. Third time could be a charm—a pretty little eviction notice.
Does the doo-doo DNA voodoo work? In Breckenridge, Colorado, one public housing outfit requires a DNA sample from residents’ dogs. In an interview published by the Denver Post, a housing authority representative said, “Our decision to pursue dog DNA testing was around ensuring our property was being up-kept and maintained. And making sure our guests weren’t exposed to, well, dog poop everywhere. It has worked. No one wants to be fined $100 over dog poop.”
Florida RV park does it already
All well and good for long-term stays. Would such a dog DNA scheme work in, say, an RV park? Glad you asked! Pilot your RV and your pooch to Fort Myers, Florida. Plug “Woodsmoke Camping Resort” in your GPS and you’ll find the answer. Writes one campground guest in an internet review, “If you have a dog, they will charge you $40 to do a DNA test on your pet. This is a one-time fee, non-refundable. You MUST pick up after your pet or you will be charged $75.”
Forty bucks for a dog DNA test? Yes. DNA labs charge their apartment complex and RV park clients for the initial DNA evaluation and registration. Figures are hard to come by, but some suggest landlords are making a profit on the initial DNA test. We asked for comments from two DNA labs that specialize in “canine crap checks,” but, sadly, neither responded to our queries. Hang on, we have comments attributed to Woodsmoke’s management.
Not everyone is happy—but…
Some dog-owning RVers take exception to being charged a DNA registration fee. But keep in mind this in mind: Some RV parks charge extra to those who bring pets to their parks. And some park managers report that when they charge a pet fee, some thoughtless pet owners take it as carte blanche to allow their pet to poop—and let someone else do the cleanup. At Woodsmoke, the $40 charge only happens once. Subsequent visits already have the DNA profile on file. And if you should visit another RV park that uses the same DNA lab, you can use that profile there at no charge. Consider it a sort of poop passport.
RV park responds
While some RVing dog lovers have taken exception to the Fort Myers RV park policy on pet poop, here are comments Woodsmoke Camping Resort posted to a social media page: “There is a one-time $40 dog registration fee, which includes a cheek swab. We are charged $40 by Poo Prints [their DNA test lab] to register each pet. We could charge more in order to profit from it, but we do not,” the note said.
“When we first started this service we were only charging $20 per dog, which actually meant we were losing money. If poo is found on our property, we send it off to Poo Prints who tests it for DNA and tells us which dog it belongs to. We then fine the owner $75, the precise amount that Poo Prints charges us to run the DNA test”. What next? “We increase our fine to $150 for the second offense in order to discourage repeat offenders.” And the rationale? “We don’t take any pleasure in fining campers, but we feel everyone appreciates a clean park.”
Whatever is next?
Will other RV parks follow suit and demand dog DNA samples from guests? Woodsmoke’s managers say they’ve gotten plenty of calls from other RV park owners, wanting to know how the process works. It’s easy to foresee the day that cheek swabs or hair samples could be a standard registration desk request. It could become so common, that perhaps some wag will start their own TV crime investigation show based on doggy DNA. We can hear the theme song already: “Who are you? Poo? Poo? Poo? Poo?”
What do you think? Would you appreciate—or excoriate—having RV parks do the DNA doo-doo thing? Fill out the form below, and enter “Dog DNA” on the subject line.