Tempe Community Using Dog DNA to Police Pet-Waste Problem

 One Tempe community has found a novel way of dealing with pet poop — testing doggie DNA.

The Residences at Fountainhead, which has been open for a year, has been policing pet owners, requiring residents who move into the community to have their dogs' mouth swabbed for DNA testing.

Then, if the pet later potties on the property in the community, samples of the waste are collected and sent to a lab for comparison.

It’s like the least compelling episode of CSI ever.

The complex doesn’t charge the resident extra for the initial swab, and instead pays for the $39.95 cost to initially obtain a dog’s DNA profile by using a non-refundable pet deposit. Pet waste discovered on the grounds is collected and sent to the lab for $59.95 to match the dog’s profile to the feces. Residents who violate the poop policy are fined $250 per violation..

“In the past, the maintenance crew just went through with their tongs and bucket, and if someone was lazy and didn’t pick up after their dog, they would normally just pick it up and throw it away,” says Kris Tomlinson, Fountainhead's property manager. “Now, they pick it up and put it in a plastic vial, and I shoot it to the lab. The lab comes back and says, ‘Jimmy in 1001.’ And I say to myself, ‘Cool, Jimmy now owes me $250.’”

The community has 265 occupied units and about 50 dogs living in the community. Tomlinson has encountered few violations, as residents realize they need to do their “duty,” he says.

The company, Poo Prints, is based in Tennessee and services nearly 2,000 apartment complexes around the country. 

"The average person today thinks of dog waste as simply a nuisance when they step in it," says Poo Prints' promotional materials. "They also are under the assumption that it simply turns into fertilizer, as other waste. In fact, dog waste is not fertilizer and does not simply deteriorate — dog waste is the most contaminated waste of any animal."

Despite the technology's being available for more than a decade, The Residents At Fountainhead is one of the few communities in Arizona using it, says Tomlinson, who has worked as a property manager for 16 years at different Arizona communities. 

“It’s a cool program," says Tomlinson. “I don’t know why [more properties don't] use it. It’s crazy to me."
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