DNA sample from pet will ensure owner responsibility

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 26, 2012

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — One local apartment complex has found a new way to sniff out dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets.
About a month ago, residents of The Grand on Julian received notice of a new policy to enforce its poop scooping rules.
Each dog in the community must submit a DNA sample, so that any “evidence” found on the ground can be matched with the culprit. Residents who don’t pick up after their pets can face fines and even eviction.
“Due to pet waste being a constant problem, and pet owners not picking up and disposing of said waste, we are implementing the following policy,” the written notice states. “This policy implementation is non-negotiable and will apply to all dog owners due to current law and the potential spread of disease to residents and pets.”
Once all dogs are included in the PooPrints registry, the grounds will be “thoroughly cleaned” of all pet waste, the notice states. Any waste found on the grounds afterward will be collected and sent to BioPet Vet Labs in Knoxville, Tenn., for testing.
The owner of the matching dog will be fined $150 for the first and second offense. After a third offense, the owner will be fined $250 and required to take their pet off the premises.
Residents risk eviction if they don’t pay the fines or register their pets.
Property Manager Eva Markell could not be reached for comment Friday.
Tony Raby, who has lived at The Grand for about two years, said he found the policy “bizarre” but agrees that something needed to be done.
“People just weren’t cleaning up after their pets — a lot of people were, but some people weren’t,” Raby said. “It’s no fun to go around and find that.”
Dog owners must pay for the DNA test kits, which cost $30 per pet and involve a painless cheek swab. Raby said his appointment only took a few minutes.
“I don’t mind paying $30 if it works,” he said.
The apartment complex recently has put up more dog waste stations, Raby said, which makes it more convenient to clean up during a walk.
Marta Valdez, who moved to the complex in February, doesn’t have a dog but said she agrees with the new policy.
“My apartment is facing the woods,” she said. “People used to take their dogs out there and didn’t pick up after them.”
Annette Silvers owns two dogs and said she has mixed feelings about the DNA test requirement.
“I think it could have been handled a different way, and it could have been a more positive thing,” she said. “I think every pet owner should clean up after their dogs.”
She said she spoke to the management at The Grand, where she has lived for two and a half years, about the reasoning behind the rule. Now, she says she can accept it, even though she doesn’t like that the cost of testing falls on dog owners.
“For someone who already cleans up after their pet, it was just an additional expense for me,” Silvers said. “But I paid the $60. … I live here, so I’m going to follow the rules.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
Twitter: twitter.com/postcopolitics
Facebook: facebook.com/ Karissa.SalisburyPost