Dog poo DNA testing spreads to downtown apartments

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More apartment complexes in central Indiana are turning to DNA testing to discipline dog owners who don’t pick up after their pet. 

Carmel Parks and Recreation made headlines for employing Poo Prints three years ago when they opened their Central Bark Park. Michael Allen, maintenance director for the parks, says all registered dogs must submit a cheek swab for a DNA sample. Poo Prints then enters the dogs’ DNA into a national database connected to a laboratory. When maintenance crews find an abandoned accident on the turf, they take a sample, send it to the lab, and dump a fine of $80 on the dog owner. 

“We want people to understand that dog feces is a problem not just for their dog and their experience, but for everyone else in the facility too,” said Allen, “There’s consequences if you don’t address this.” 

Allen says the $80 fine only covers the cost of the test and is not used as a revenue source for the parks. 

“I’ve been involved in dog park management in other places and this is very unique,” he said, “I gotta say it’s somewhat of a breath of fresh air believe it or not, because it’s so clean out here.” 

Taking note of Carmel’s success, downtown Indianapolis apartment complexes like 360 Market Square, 9 on Canal, Axis, and other Flaherty and Collins properties have scooped up the idea. 

“I think at first people say, ‘Really, do you have to do that? Do you have to babysit them that much?'” said Katie Wright, property manager at 360 Market Square. “Yes. You’d be surprised. There are people who don’t care about the mess and don’t care if it bothers someone else.”

Renters with 360 Market Square complete the same dog cheek swab for Poo Prints and must be watchful of their pooch at all places inside the complex. 

“There is a fine. It could start anywhere from $200 to $1,000 depending on how bad the mess is,” said Wright, referencing potential damage to carpets, flooring or furniture in the complex. 

Wright says the complex hasn’t handed out any ditched dog doo tickets since March. Carmel Parks and Rec meanwhile have had 12 violations in the last three years. 

“I think people understand the concept. They understand the benefits. They want that clean experience for themselves and their dog, and their kids,” Allen said. 

Tanya Roudebush and her dog Sophie spend time at the Central Bark Park, and Roudebush said she was surprised to get a violation notification via email. 

“I have always been conscious of picking up after Sophie but I obviously missed one,” Roudebush said. 

She says she often picks up leftover messes from other dogs and was suspicious that the park really performed a DNA test. 

“At first I thought they were possibly bluffing when they did the swabs,” Roudebush said. “I actually got the name of the lab in Kentucky and called and found out it was a real program they’re running.”

Roudebush said she was fine paying the fine since she has noticed the dog park is very clean. 

“I thought it was sort of over the top but now it makes total sense,” she said. 

Carmel Parks and Recreation is still leading the charge against owners who let their dogs dung and dash. Indianapolis played host to a national conference on dog parks in September and Allen says Carmel Parks and Rec delivered its own presentation about DNA-enforced dog cleanliness. He said the visiting agencies loved the idea. 


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