Using DNA to track down 'poopetrators' - FOX 35 News Orlando

Using DNA to track down 'poopetrators'

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BRANDON (FOX 13) -

When you walk your dog, do you pick up after him or her? If you don't, why not? Dog waste isn't just unsightly -- it's also a huge source of contamination in our storm water.

Joshua Zimmerman of Brandon says it happens to him way too often.

"It's incredibly frustrating especially when you're walking at night," he complained. "You're walking your pet and you step in someone else's stuff or, God forbid, your pet eats someone else's stuff as well."

Zimmerman and his friend Whitney Cameron were both at a loss as to why people won't pick up after their pets.

"When you walk into the dog park and you have something here and there's a bag right there, you don't quite understand why people won't pick it up," she offered.

But Cameron's apartment complex is doing something about it. They're putting some teeth into their pickup policy with a new program called PooPrints.

"We'll be able to take a sample and send it off to the lab and match it up and address it with the person who was responsible," stated Nicole Malloy, property manager at the Crescent Crosstown Apartments in Brandon.

Carey Bradburn of PooPrints says it's a foolproof way to track down offenders without catching them in the act or relying on someone to turn in a friend or neighbor.

"With the DNA testing, we actually know who it is," Bradburn explained. "You can actually get to what we call the 'poopetrator,' whoever's making the mess."

It starts with a cheek swab to collect the doggy DNA. That sample, along with owner information, is sent off and registered with PooPrints. If management finds what somebody didn't pick up, they take a small sample -- it's not as bad as it sounds -- and sends it off to the PooPrints lab in Tennessee, where it's matched.

The cost of analyzing a sample is $50, which Malloy says they will charge the offender.

But Bradburn says it quickly becomes a deterrent.

"The first two, three, four times you may fine people. Word gets out very quickly and people start changing their behavior."

That ultimately saves the grounds, the environment, other pets, and the rest of us from stepping in it.

For more information: http://www.pooprints.com/

FOX 13's Cynthia Smoot will have more at 5.

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