Several colleagues and clients have sent me links, over the past few weeks, to the news stories about the Baltimore condominium association that was considering a policy to require pets to have their DNA registered, with the intent to track down those owners who don’t clean up after their dogs.
As anyone in the community association industry will tell you, pets are one of the biggest areas of controversy in many associations, and dog droppings are a major source of that controversy. It seems that most pet owners like to walk their pets, but a significant percentage (estimated at 40%) don’t bother to clean up. Associations respond to the problem by having designated pet areas, accessible bag stations, and fines for those offenders who get caught.
With the assistance of BioPet Vet Lab, however, associations have a new option. For a mere $49.95, you can pack up some of the evidence, and send it off for analysis. If the dog’s in your association’s database, you’ll have the evidence that you need to track down the dog, and fine his or her owner.
Of course if it’s a dog from the association next door, or a stray who’s not from your association, you will have wasted $49.95. (Although another service that they provide is an analysis of the breed of the animal based upon the DNA, so if there aren’t many shar peis in your neighborhood, you’ll at least have some circumstantial evidence.
Here’s how BioPet Vet Lab suggests that you proceed:
Step 1. Associations pass an amendment to their covenants requiring dog owners to register each of their dogs. This will create the neighborhood reference database.
Step 2. When an association registers with BioPet they receive a unique BioPet account code. There is a $100.00 registration deposit. The deposit will be applied to your first order of DNA Pet ID kits.
Step 3. The association purchases DNA Pet ID kits from BioPet for each dog to be registered. Kit cost is $29.95 each. The registration cost from step 2 will be deducted from this total.
Step 4. Once the association receives the kits, they distribute them to neighborhood dog owners. It is the association’s responsibility to ensure the collection of DNA samples and that each sample be marked with the associations’ BioPet account code.
Step 5. Associations purchase Poo collection kits which contain everything they need to send in a sample for DNA matching to the reference database. Each collection kit is $2 with a minimum order of 24 kits.
Step 6. Send in the poo sample with the $49.95 processing fee. Associations may elect to fine the dog owner to recoup this cost.
Step 7. BioPet returns the Pet ID number of the dog that matches the poo sample by email. The HOA will be able to look up the owner of that dog by itÆs Pet ID number.
Having visited the site, and read how it works, I’m actually quite surprised that more associations aren’t doing this. Before they do so, however, I’d recommend that they review the proposed policy with competent legal counsel. I think there are a few other steps that associations should include in the process, to assure due process before fining owners.