Mar 1, 2022 - News

Des Moines' dog poop detectives

Illustration of a poop emoji with crime scene tape in front of it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A growing number of Des Moines metro housing complexes are holding dog owners responsible for picking up after their pooch with DNA technology, representatives of PooPrints told Axios.

Why it matters: The technology not only promotes responsible ownership, but it can also help solve dog abductions and runaways, said J. Retinger, CEO of the dog waste management company.

How it works: Housing complexes request that dog owners take cheek swabs of their pets, which are collected and added to PooPrints' growing doggie DNA database.

  • Then, management can test unscooped waste to accurately identify the problem pooper. Some issue fines or other penalties to the owner.

The big picture: PooPrints has been around since 2009 but the technology is advancing. More than 350,000 dogs from 6,000 communities in five countries are now part of the program.

Zoom in: At least 30 Des Moines metro-area housing complexes now use PooPrints, Charles Nash, the company's Iowa sales representative, told Axios.

  • Foxboro and Ashworth Pointe townhomes in West Des Moines have used the technology for almost five years. Under the townhomes' policy, fines start at $100 and a third offense can lead to eviction.

What they're saying: Sara Kern, who manages the developments, told Axios it's reduced waste problems.

  • Of a dozen incidents, six resulted in a positive identification. No dog has been a repeat violator, Kern said.

What to watch: Local governments in the United Kingdom and one in Carmel, Indiana, have already implemented dog park DNA programs, Nash noted.

  • Des Moines took a look at the program last month but decided not to pursue it at this time because of labor concerns, Parks and Recreation director Ben Page told Axios.
A photo of dog poop at a Des Moines park.
A surprise nugget in the grass at Gray’s Lake Park last week. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

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