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Dog Poop Detectives

Dog poop fiends beware! Pet DNA testing catches on in H-Town, targets owners who don't pick up

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dog poop, magnifying glass, nose, DNA
New doggie DNA kits are helping to put an end to poop-and-runs. Illustration by Jan-Pieter Zuiderveen

The ancient relationship between human and canine is entering a strange new chapter in Montrose — all thanks to a odd fusion of science, real estate and high-tech pet care.

The story starts several months ago, when residents of the Fairmont Museum District apartment complex at Richmond and Dunlavy faced a mysterious rash of poop-and-run incidents.

 "No matter how many signs we put up, the accidents just kept happening. We knew we had to find another way to tackle this."

"Our second floor opens up to a courtyard," explains leasing manager Molly Kalish. "Though dogs are permitted out there, we kept finding accidents in the carpeted hallway leading to the outdoor area."

Building staff put up a polite note . . . and then another . . . and another.

"No matter how many signs we put up, the accidents just kept happening," Kalish says. "We knew we had to find another way to tackle this."

Enter PooPrints, a DNA-based registry used to identify wayward doggie waste. Building management had been fascinated by the PooPrints system since November, when manufacturer BioPet Vet Lab made headlines by presenting its product to Dallas City Council.

Kalish says that second floor tenants were given $50 registration kits to take oral samples from their pets. The swabs were sent to BioPet's labs in Tennessee, where the DNA information was added to an online database. While the culprit was never discovered, the accidents promptly stopped and haven't returned. Management now suspects it was a visiting dog.

Tenants were given $50 registration kits to take oral samples from their pets. The swabs were sent to a lab, where the DNA information was added to an online database. 

The Fairmont hopes to initiate PooPrints throughout the complex in the near future, with costs for the DNA testing to be incorporated into a one-time pet fee for new tenants. According to Kalish, resistance to the registry has been surprisingly low, although the details with existing tenants have yet to be ironed out.

"It's amazing how positively people respond to the system," PooPrints spokesperson Eric Mayer says. "Once people think about the system, almost everybody's on board."

In a little more than a year, the poop DNA system is now in place at hundreds of residential communities in 35 states.

"DNA used to be incredibly expensive back in the day, but prices have dropped considerably in the last decade," Mayer says. "Let's face it, this is an age-old problem . . . but now there's an answer."

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