While eyebrow-raising acts of tyranny committed by condo associations and HOAs are nothing new (pity those who dare rock the homogenous boat with flower beds, angels, clotheslines and blinding/traffic snarling Halloween light displays), one condo complex in Morris County, N.J., is taking things to a whole new level by requiring dog owners to submit their pooches to DNA sampling as part of an effort to keep the property poop-free.

Residents at the Grande at Riverdale must pay $30 to have their dogs’ mouths swabbed for DNA samples by Nov. 1 and if they fail to do so, they’ll be slapped with a $100 fine. A steep penalty for sure, but what’s even steeper is the fine that dog-owning residents will be forced to dole out if an errant turd discovered by condo management on the property is tested and found to match the DNA of their beloved pet. The first offense for residents who fail to pick up after their dog(s) is $250 and the second offense is $500. Residents who habitually neglect to scoop their dog's poop will be fined $1,000 per offense.

I’m all for getting folks to practice diligence when it comes to doggy defecation removal. There’s really no excuse for not cleaning up after one’s best friend. Prominent signage, snitches, shaming, and returning unwanted gifts to their sender all seem like reasonable tactics in which to err, curb, the problem. But is compulsory DNA sampling taking it too far?

Some dog owners at the Grande at Riverdale seem to think so.

Bill Mirrer, a resident who walks his pooch five times a day and is vigilant about cleaning up any messes resulting from those constitutionals (or is he?) thinks the whole thing is absurd: “DNA testing on dogs to see who went where or what, I think is ridiculous. I really do,” he tells CBS 2 New York.

Lucy Martine, who has stepped in a fair amount of canine caca in her lifetime, agrees: “It is a shame they have to go to those steps to enforce a courtesy rule, environment rule, healthy rule. I’ve never heard of it before anywhere. I’ve had animals all of my life.”

And while Stacy Gorstein, a dog walker with numerous four-legged clients residing at the Grande at Riverdale whom she “religiously” cleans up after, thinks the DNA scheme is “worth it,” she does seem a bit concerned about “traces” left behind. However, she assumes that “they’re looking for a bigger part of it.”

On that note, I have to wonder who “they” are. What lucky guy or gal employed by the management company will have the honors of patrolling for poop — we’ve got a big one on the left lawn, not much more than a few hours old, copy  and testing the offending specimens?

But will there be any violating specimens to even test once the dogs of the Grande at Riverdale are swabbed? It seems to me that the whole process operates as a deterrent, sending all dog owners living at the eight-building complex into a state of hyper-vigilance. Perhaps some will even start scrubbing the grass after their pooch does a brown in fear that they’ll be fined $250. That’s kind of the point — confront residents, both the responsible and irresponsible, with DNA sampling and fines, and the problem will pretty much take care of itself. 

Although the DNA sampling being carried out at the Grande at Riverdale is a bit unusual, it’s not the first instance of a condo complex getting all CSI to crack down on unscooped dog poop. According to NorthJersey.com, a 398-unit condo complex in Braintree, Mass., began using PooPrints, the same DNA matching service being employed at the Grande, last summer and has since seen a 90 percent reduction in the number of acts commits being committed by poop-scooping scofflaws.

And this isn't surprising in the least: Eric Mayer, a spokesman for Knoxville-based BioPet Lab Vet, tells NorthJersey.com that his company created PooPrints after a BioPet scientist stepped in a big pile of you-know-what on her way to work. 

Dog owners, those living under the watchful eye of HOAs and condo associations, and everyone else: What do you think? A bit much or an innovative way to conquer a gross — and environmentally hazardous — problem?

Via [CBS 2], [NorthJersey.com]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Condo complex to nab neglectful poop-scoopers with doggy DNA sampling
The management of a New Jersey condo complex are turning to a DNA matching service called PooPrints to eliminate unsightly dog waste.