In my Sept. 12 column, “Here’s Why You Need to Scoop Your Dog’s Poop,” I described how important it is for us to clean up after our dogs with poop bags.

Regrettably, about 40% of dog owners do not clean up after their dog defecates outside. As I wrote, there are an estimated 72 million dogs in the United States, which means an estimated 8 billion pounds of dog poop are produced annually. The average dog produces 274 pounds of waste a year.

In response to dog poop having an unpleasant odor, attracting flies and other insects, destroying native vegetation, polluting water and posing health hazards for people, the existence of a Private Poop Police in the form of DNA testing has arrived.

DNA testing is done when a swab is taken from inside a dog’s cheek. The sample is mailed to a special laboratory that creates the dog’s specific DNA profile. This profile is entered into a dog DNA database maintained by the company.

When an un-scooped poop is found, it is collected, typically by property management staff using a specialized DNA test kit and then mailed to the lab for DNA typing. The company’s lab analyzes the poop sample and checks for a match in its DNA registry.

In the United States, many homeowners’ associations, gated communities, senior living facilities, apartment and condominium complexes, mobile home parks, dog parks, privately owned campgrounds and some municipalities require DNA testing for dogs.

The testing for dogs is to identify which owners are not picking up their dogs’ waste. These offenders are also called a “poo-petrators.”

In the United States, these private properties have instituted what they term as a “pet waste management program” using DNA testing. Homeowner rules and regulations, rental agreements and so forth have written agreements that all tenants/owners are expected to comply with DNA requirements.

Each property sets its specific regulations and penalties. Many involve large fines for violations, and repeat offenders may lose their pet privileges or even face eviction.

This form of localizing the offender frees the managers, staff and residents from viewing endless clips of video footage to find the offender, as well as to avoid neighborhood feuds.

The labs doing the DNA testing do not share your pal’s DNA with anyone but the owners and the property managers. Dog DNA testing is legal in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and several other countries.

It has been implemented in Tel Aviv, Israel; Naples and Magnate, Italy; Leitrim County, Ireland; Bezier, France; and many towns in England. They typically require DNA testing for dogs when a dog gets licensed.

Fines are hefty — ranging from $150 in Massachusetts to up to $1,000 in New York City luxury apartments.

The two largest dog poop DNA testing labs are PooPrints and Mr Dog Poop.

PooPrints services 7,000 communities in all 50 states and seven countries, primarily Canada, Mexico and England. The concept was developed in 2010, and the company now has 800,000 registered dogs on file. Their partners report a 95% reduction in unscooped poop. 

Mr Dog Poop services 48 states and thousands of communities, and was developed in 2014. It states that 85% of its customers report three or fewer poops found after the first year.

The company also says that “if a sample does not match any of the community dogs’ DNA, the sample remains in an unsolved crime folder and will continue to be checked against all new dogs being added to the Crime Lab Database for the next year.”

So, the bottom line is that even if the culprit has not yet been swabbed, it eventually could be identified and forensic science can be used to catch the pesky poo-petrators.

As Mr Dog Poop says, “If the FBI can use DNA technology to enforce the law, why can’t HOAs, COAs and property managers?”

Please don’t shoot the messenger just because this is a shi­­–y column.

Dr. Bonnie Franklin is a relief veterinarian who grew up in Santa Barbara. She earned her doctorate of veterinary medicine from a joint program of Washington State and Oregon State universities, a master’s degree in wildlife biology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and does consulting work with the U.S. Forest Service. The opinions expressed are her own.