Yes, You Can Get a DNA Match for the Dog Poop You Just Stepped In

If you’re a dog owner, the first rule is — or, should be — to pick up after your dog. If you don’t, bad things can happen, especially to the under soles of your neighbors’ shoes and, if they’re neither observant or careful, to their carpeting. Your neighbor will be so upset that it’s hard to predict how he or she will react; there is at least one example of person threatening to retaliate with her own feces. But sometimes, even the best-intended dog owners forget to clean up after Fido. So if bad things happens and your dog is the offending pooper, it may be a good idea to pretend it wasn’t your dog. It’s not like your neighbor can prove otherwise.

A Tennessee company hopes to change that.

The company, called BioPet Vet Labs, mixes the best parts of CSI with the worst parts of being a dog walker. Their best-seller is something called PooPrints — a service which matches dog poop and the dog it came from via the dog’s DNA. The company, according to the Washington Post, “developed a process for swabbing dogs’ mouths for a DNA sample. The profiles are stored in a company database. Marble-sized specimens of offending waste are mailed to the company in bottles containing a stabilizer, then checked against the property’s registry, consistently yielding ‘highly viable’ matches.” As of late 2014, the BioPet Vet Labs has the DNA of roughly 30,000 dogs in the U.S. and Canada on file.

That’s not a huge percentage of dogs, but it’s enough to create a success story or two — especially because some home owners associations and condo boards can force the issue. In 2013, NBC News reported that a Boston-area condo complex with nearly 400 units used PooPrints to stop their problems with a phantom pooper: “An attorney advised [condo manager Barbara] Kansky that condo trustees could enforce existing condo rules by requiring all dog owners to submit their animals for collection of DNA samples. Dog owners paid a one-time fee of $59.95 for the initial DNA testing for the database.” It worked: Kansky’s condo association was able to find an offending dog and take action against its owner.

A similar story hit the media in April 2015. The Associated Press reported that an apartment complex near Seattle was also struggling with dog doo — per Erin Atkinson, the building manager, “there was poop inside the elevators, in the carpeted hallways, [and] up on the roof.” But with multiple dog-owning residents in the building, the canine culprit was impossible to pin down. Like the pups of the Boston condos, dogs in this building also had to register with PooPrints. For a one-time fee (per poop tested), PooPrints solved the problem, identifying the offending dogs and giving cause for Atkinson to hand out some fines. She told the AP that “one person was fined five times in one week. That’s over $500. Now people clean up after their dogs.”

So perhaps the scourge of anonymous dog poops is soon to be a thing of the past. Even if you don’t have a dog, you can help. PooPrints operates through local franchises. If you want to be a dog poop entrepreneur, you get more info here.

AnchorBonus Fact: Proof that you can buy anything online: You can send someone mail-order animal poop — cow, elephant, or gorilla, your choice.

From the Archives: Wi-Fido: Dog poop-powered wifi.

Take the Quiz: Name the 30 most popular dog breeds.

Related: “Premium Fake Poop.” Yes, “premium.” And the reviews agree — 4.7 stars on 96 reviews.