An apartment complex outside Dallas has become the latest to hire a company that conducts DNA tests on unscooped dog poop, with an eye toward fining, and possibly evicting, any owners who fail to clean up.
The management at NorthSide at Legacy, in Plano, informed tenants in a letter Friday that they will be required to bring their dogs in for cheek swabs in order to establish a DNA registry of all dogs at the complex, Fox News reported.
The testing is conducted by PooPrints, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based company that is marketing the service nationwide.
Once all the dogs are registered, any dog waste left on the property can be sent off to the PooPrints lab to be matched to the dog.
The fine for failing to clean up will be $250. Subsequent infractions or unpaid fines can result in rental agreements being terminated, the letter said.
“The goal of the program is to help maintain a clean and sanitary environment for all of our residents,” said David Marguiles, who represents Lincoln Properties, the company that owns and operates the apartments.
We’ve told you before about apartment complexes in New Hampshire, and Minnesota that have instituted the program, and how PooPrints has also tried to persuade the Dallas City Council to use its services city-wide.
A representative from PooPrints said they have hundreds of clients in 33 states.
Another Dallas apartment complex, The Ilume Cedar Springs, contracted with PooPrints last fall, with great success, according to management.
Residents there have been much more diligent about cleaning up after their animals, and only 12 – 15 samples of feces have been sent off to the lab for identification, according to the property manager.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, apartments, cleaning, dallas, dna, dna registry, dna testing, dog, dogs, feces, northside at legacy, not picked up, pets, pick-up, plano, poop, pooprints, properties, scoop, testing, unscooped, waste
David Stoddard was indicted Thursday for aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary in connection with a home invasion in Barberton on Oct. 6.
Three masked men burst into a house, robbed the occupants and shot and killed the family’s pit bull mix after it bit one of the intruders on the arm, according to News Channel 5.
Police investigating the crime swabbed the inside of the deceased dog’s mouth in hopes of finding DNA evidence that would lead to the bitten suspect.
On Dec. 5, Barberton police learned the sample had led to a potential match to Stoddard and began trying to find him — both at his home and through his attorney, who said Stoddard would turn himself in.
That didn’t happen, and police did not issue a warrant for Stoddard’s arrest, in part because they were hoping to confirm the DNA results first with a second test.
On Jan. 6, Stoddard allegedly broke into an Akron home and shot and killed 16-year-old Anna Karam, who was 4-months pregnant.
Stoddard is being held in the Summit County Jail. He’s facing multiple charges, including aggravated murder in connection with the Akron killing.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akron, animals, arrest, barberton, burglary, crime, david stoddard, dna, dogs, forensics, girl, home invasion, investigation, killed, law enforcement, mix, murder, pets, pit bull, pitbull, police, pregnant, robbery, shot
Of the more than 50 street dogs rounded up after five humans were found dead in a Mexico City park, almost half have had tests done on their stomach contents, and none have shown any evidence of having eaten human flesh.
Sources in Mexico City told the Associated Press that initial tests on 25 strays showed none had human remains in their stomachs. An unnamed employee of the city prosecutors’ office said officials were still awaiting results from tests on the dogs’ fur and paws to see if any human DNA was present.
Authorities in Mexico City have blamed five deaths on stray or wild dogs that roam Cerro de la Estrella park, where five mauled human bodies have been found in recent months.
Fifty-seven dogs, including the one pictured above, were swept up in and around the park, prompting protests from animal activists and others who believe authorities aren’t looking closely enough at the possibility that the bodies were killed by drug gangs and dumped there.
Dozens of protesters chanting “free the dogs, arrest the criminals!” and “the dogs aren’t criminals, the police are inept!” demonstrated outside Mexico City police headquarters Friday, demanding the release of the stray dogs.
Authorities say autopsies determined that three women, a teenage boy and a baby found in the park since mid-December died of loss of blood due to bites from multiple dogs.
The protesters, while acknowledging dogs might have fed on the victims after their deaths, say the dogs are being unfairly blamed, and many suspect the victims were killed by humans, then dumped in the park in hopes the stray dogs would destroy any evidence.
Jose Luis Carranza, of the Citizens Front for Animal Rights, was one of those critical of the round-up of strays:
“If the authorities really want to crack down on the overpopulation of dogs, then they should go after the clandestine puppy sellers,” he said. “Every day there are people selling dogs on the streets, and the police don’t do anything.”
The 57 dogs rounded up at the Cerro de la Estrella park, located in a poor Iztapalapa neighborhood, are mostly small to mid-size dogs, and include beagle and border-collie mixes. Twenty-three are puppies or very young dogs, according to the Associated Press report.
On Friday, authorities in Iztapalapa announced that the dogs taken into custody would, once tests are completed, be put up for adoption. They had earlier promised animal rights groups that the dogs would not be killed.
The dogs will get shots, baths and medical treatment before being given away, they said.
(Photo: Dario Lopez-Mills / AP)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 14th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, adopt, adoption, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, bitten, Cerro de la Estrella, citizens front for animal rights, contents, dna, dogs, five, humans, investigation, Iztapalapa, Jose Luis Carranza, killed, mauled, mexico city, pets, police, remains, roudup, round up, stomach, strays, street dogs, tests
A company we’ve told you about before, called PooPrints, made its case before the Dallas City Council this week, promising it could solve one of life’s great and ongoing mysteries — and it’s not who shot J.R.
It’s “Whose poop is this?” and, as company officials pointed out, tracking down and fining the owners of dogs who didn’t clean up could bring in millions in revenue for the city.
(Not to mention millions in revenue for the company.)
At least one Dallas City Council member expressed more than a passing interest in the company’s proposal to establish a citywide doggie DNA registry that would allow unscooped piles of poop to be traced to their source.
The company is already working with apartment and condo complexes around the country, but now it seems to have its sights set on signing up entire cities.
We, in case you can’t tell, hate this idea (and we pick up).
NBC5 in Dallas reports that, while some Dallas City Council members chuckled Wednesday when they heard about the idea, others thought it had merit.
“I think that’s a great idea,” Councilwoman Angela Hunt said. “I think we do need enforcement, especially in some of our denser areas where you have a lot of folks living with dogs and, if they’re not picking up. It creates a problem.”
PooPrints said cracking down, through DNA testing, could help clean up the environment. “This waste does run off into the Trinity River, and it does affect our ecosystem,” spokesman Chris Taylor said. “And we do want to keep our parks clean. We want to keep them healthy. This is a very easy way to do it.”
Company officials say residents could be required to pay for the $29.95 kits required to get a DNA sample. The city — while it would pay for the tests on the poop itself – $49.95 each — would more than recoup that expense through fining perpetrators.
The Ilume apartment complex on Cedar Springs Road in Dallas is already using the program on its property. Residents are required to record their pet’s DNA, and they’re fined $250 if waste on the property is tracked to that pet. A second offense leads to eviction.
“We’ve gone from picking up maybe an hour a day of poop, to picking up maybe one or two a month,” manager Joshuah Welch said.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 9th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: angela hunt, animals, city council, dallas, dna, dog, dogs, enforcement, environment, eviction, feces, fines, kits, penalties, pets, poo prints, poop, registry, revenue, scoop, shit, testing, unscooped, waste
Ahhh, the many noble uses of DNA testing — to free a wrongly convicted prisoner from death row, to nail down a rape conviction, to match a baby daddy to a baby and make him take some financial responsibility.
Then there’s using it to determine ownership of dog poop.
Call it the science of waste, or a waste of science, but increasingly apartment and condo management companies are considering and in some cases signing up for a service that, through DNA testing, matches unscooped dog poop to the offending dog who left it behind.
A recent report in the Pioneer Press says the service arrived in the Twin Cities area two months ago.
Rosedale Estates North, a 180-unit apartment complex in Roseville, is now sending samples of unscooped poop to a laboratory in Tennessee, where it’s compared to DNA that has been supplied by every dog owner in the complex, usually via a swab that has been swiped in the dog’s mouth.
The first offending sample was picked up Tuesday, May 15. Once the dog who dropped it is determined, its owner will face a $100 fine. Second offenses bring another $100 fine. A third offense leads to an order to get rid of the pet.
Jim Simpson, owner of BioPets Vet Lab in Knoxville, said the company started offering the dog-DNA service called PooPrints in 2008. He charges $30 for each DNA sample to be registered and $50 for each stool sample that is tested later.
In some cities, the service is managed through Rent 411, an apartment-finding company. Its owner says there are seven PooPrint customers in Minnesota.
Another townhouse complex considered signing up, according to the Pioneer Press, but dropped the plan when a volunteer offered to pick up poop herself every week.
Sometimes, it seems, we turn to technology when far simpler, cheaper, less intrusive solutions are available. Do we really need forensic poop spies when we could just pick it up?
(Photo: Tenant Daniel Allen cleans up after his 6 1/2-month-old puppy Creed at the Roseville apartment complex. Allen supports the “PooPrints” program and says the complex is cleaner since it started; by John Doman / Pioneer Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 24th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apartment, biopets, biopets vet lab, dna, dog poop, dogs, droppings, feces, fines, knoxville, lab, laboratory, management, minnesota, owners, pets, poop, pooprints, property, registry, samples, science, science of waste, stool, technology, tennessee, testing, tracking, twin cities, waste, waste of science
A new study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues that charting the DNA of modern dog breeds doesn’t likely hold the answer.
The study, authored by 20 scientists, concluded that testing the DNA of today’s dogs does not “get us any closer to understanding where and when and how dogs were domesticated.”
According to Greger Larson at the University of Durham in England, the DNA of modern dogs is so mixed up that it is useless in figuring out when and where dogs originated. Only with the analysis of DNA from fossilized dogs, now underway, will the answers be found, he says.
Larson and colleagues took DNA from 1,375 dogs of 121 breeds, and 19 wolves in connection with the study.
While it’s still unclear what, if any, breeds can rightfully be called “ancient,” the study did find six breeds the were labeled basal — the basenji, shar-pei, Saluki, Akita, Finnish spitz and Eurasier, according to the New York Times. That means their DNA was less mixed.
Among the dog breeds most commonly mentioned as ancient, or at least closest to their ancient predecessors are basenji, shar-pei, shiba inu, chow chow, Afghan hound, saluki, Siberian husky and Alaskan malamute, lhasa apso and samoyed.
Reports the Times:
“Just as DNA from Neanderthals has helped illuminate the origins of modern humans, DNA from ancient dog fossils should help illuminate the story of early dog domestication in the next few years.
“We’re not a million miles away,” said Larson. “We’re close.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ancient, animals, breeds, dna, dog, dogs, domestication, fossilized, fossils, genetic, greger larson, modern, national academy of sciences, origin, pets, study, testing, university of durham, wolf
While there’s an old one hanging on my wall, and while I served as a juror once, I have little to say these days about Pulitzer Prizes.
The Pawlitzer Prizes are another matter, though, and, since they don’t really exist, I hereby bestow one on the Toledo Blade.
The newspaper’s report Sunday, asking and answering the question of how many dogs are put down at the local shelter under the mistaken belief they are pit bulls, is the kind of probing, hard-hitting doggie journalism we need more of — as opposed to celebrity dogs, costumed dogs, ugly dogs and cute dogs.
(It’s also the kind of journalism we need more of, in these times of fading newspapers and diminishing depth.)
The story raises some serious questions about how many supposed pit bulls have been and are being euthanized at the Lucas County Animal Shelter, where the decision of who’s a pit bull — as at most shelters — is based on an educated guess, or often an uneducated one, reached solely on the basis of looks.
The story shows that looks can be deceiving.
Written by Tanya Irwin, it’s a piece that should be required reading at every animal shelter. It starts like this:
Lucas is lucky to be alive.
The dog, owned by Laurie and George Hughes of Rossford, was one of the first “pit bull” puppies spared by the Lucas County dog warden in January, 2010, after the county commissioners changed a long-standing policy under which all “pit bulls,” no matter their age or temperament, were automatically destroyed.
The irony is that Lucas, who was transferred to the Toledo Area Humane Society, isn’t a “pit bull.”
As the story points out, recent changes in local and state law mean dogs designated as pit bulls will no longer get an automatic death sentence when they arrive at a county shelter. In practice, though, and somewhat less automatically, they still are often euthanized, due to factors like an overabundance of their kind at shelters.
The newspaper conducted DNA tests on six dogs that were originally labeled as pit bulls by the Lucas County dog warden. Using the Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel Insights DNA test, it determined only one was predominantly American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier. Two had some “pit,” and three of the dogs had no “pit bull” breed in them at all
“We really don’t care what breed he is, he’s a good dog and we love him,” said Hughes. “I think it’s awful what people say about ‘pit bulls’ or dogs that look like ‘pit bulls.’ It’s like racism, except against dogs.”
Two other dogs, despite their labels, were pit-free: Carly, who turned out to be an American bulldog -American Eskimo mix, and Bandit, whose breeds were boxer, Scottish terrier, Chinook, Doberman pinscher, black Russian terrier, Irish setter, Glen of Imaal terrier, and dogue de Bordeaux.
Based on factors like a large head or broad chest, dogs are being mislabeled as pit bulls – a subjective judgment that, in the case of Toledo and Lucas County, and many other jurisdictions, can determine whether a dog lives or dies. It often also determines, in communities across America, whether you can rent, the cost of your insurance, and even whether you’re allowed into town in the first place.
Then you have the “pit bull mix,” an equally dangerous designation, also used to unfairly ban, restrict or single out dogs. Is it based on having a majority of pit bull blood, a small percentage (as my dog does, according to our own experiences with DNA testing), or any at all? No. It’s also most often a guess, based on looks, that allows even more dogs to be discriminated against.
Former Lucas County Dog Warden Tom Skeldon, who departed the office amid complaints over its high kill rate and his insistence that all dogs he deemed pit bulls must be killed, said he never considered the DNA tests to be reliable, and therefore made no use of them.
Dr. Angela Hughes, a veterinarian and the veterinary genetics research manager at Mars Veterinary, told the newspaper that the reliability of the tests has increased over the past four years, and now stands at about 80 to 85 percent in the case of the cheek-swab tests.
That’s a far better record than many an animal shelter probably has. At most of them, classifying a dog’s breed is a guessing game. Dogs shouldn’t be put to death based on a guess. In Lucas County, the article notes, thousands may have been.
“It’s impossible to know how many dogs Mr. Skeldon killed claiming they were pit bulls when they weren’t, but based on the kill rate during his more than 20 years as warden, the fact that close to half the dogs at the pound traditionally have been labeled pit bulls, and the DNA tests The Blade performed, easily thousands of dogs could have been killed because they were mislabeled pit bull.”
The Lucas County dog warden’s office continues to euthanize perceived pit bulls because it is “at capacity for ‘pit bull-type’ dogs.” Dog Warden Julie Lyle told the newspaper that — despite Ohio having recently revamped a law that labeled all pit bulls dangerous – the shelter has yet to begin adopting out pit bulls.
The state’s new dangerous dog law, which brings an end to pit bulls being automatically designated as dangerous, goes into effect May 21. But even then, pit bulls, due to their numbers, will likely remain the type of dog most often euthanized.
Dr. Amy Marder, director for the Center for Shelter Dogs, has proposed that dogs adopted from shelters in the United States simply be identified as “American shelter dogs.”
The North Shore Animal League in New York has done away with the pit bull label, in part because it’s not actually a breed, anyway. Instead the league refers to dogs who have “the look” as terrier mixes.
Lucas County dog warden Lyle thinks that approach is deceptive.
“When people think of terriers, they think of small, cuddly dogs, not large dogs,” Lyle said.
She said that, unless a breed is mentioned by people surrendering a dog, she and her deputies designate what breed a dog is. Currently about 40 percent of the dogs the pound takes in are designated as pit bulls.
Lyle said she was not surprised that there were cases they had gotten wrong. Overall, she said, she thinks she and her staff have done a good job deciding who is a pit bull and who is not. She said she doesn’t see any reason for the pound to change how it identifies a dog’s breed.
I can think of three: Lucas, Carly and Bandit.
(Graphic from the Toledo Blade; photo by Lori King / Toledo Blade)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american shelter dogs, american staffordshire terrier, animals, appearance, breed testing, breeds, bully, dangerous, dna, dna testing, dog, dog warden, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, guessing, investigation, killed, labeled, looks, lucas county, mislabeled, mixes, mutts, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, shelter dogs, shelters, staffordshire bull terrier, terriers, testing, toledo, toledo blade, warden, wrongly
Was he part German shepherd, as most people guessed? Maybe some mastiff, or Great Dane, to account for his size? Some thought they detected retriever, or ridgeback, Catahoula or coonhound. It was a true whodunit – who exactly got together to produce such a beast? What made him so big? Where’d that curly tail come from?
It was an enjoyable mystery, unlike the kind of guessing game that becomes more common as a dog ages.
Then it becomes not what he’s got in him, but what he’s got. (I know that’s bad grammar, but I like it better, and I’m in control, at least of the words on this page.)
It’s amazing, and depressing, all the things that can go wrong with dogs, not to mention us. And the path to figuring out which one has – even when you do have medical insurance — can be torturous.
Breed determination tests require just a simple swabbing of the inside of the cheek (or a blood test), but determining what’s wrong with your dog will likely take numerous even more expensive ones that may or may not yield an answer, or even a general category into which his ailment falls.
Is it orthopedic, neurologic, digestive, cognitive? Or could it be, instead of a purebred disease or disorder, some sort of mix?
But first things first, or at least now. Ace seems back to normal. Unlike the previous two days, when he was a mix of clingy and anxious and, while he would sit, refused to lay down – an American Clinganxious Setter, maybe? – he’s himself again, and seems to have no complaints.
He’s back on the futon as I write this — one of the areas he has avoided for the past two days – back in the role of muse, as opposed to object of my fretting. He’s laying — or is it lying — down at will. He’s eating, drinking, pooping, peeing, playing and breathing normally.
A visit to the vet — and yes, I still want to marry a veterinarian — brought no definite answers. A battery of blood tests showed that liver, kidneys and pancreas were all clear, and that he had an only slightly elevated white blood cell count.
He was dispensed some anti-inflammatory pills, which may or may not account for his improvement. Still, upon the vet’s recommendation, I will engage in the also-not-fun, though highly challenging, game of catching one’s dog’s pee in a cup, and will tote a urine sample to their office this week.
Then, depending on what the pee reveals, and depending on whether he shows any more symptoms or strangeness, more tests are a possibility — X-rays of his stomach to ensure no parasites or other foreign objects are lurking there, neurological tests because of his earlier problems, and a day-long test for Cushing’s Disease, which the vet mentioned was also a possibility.
Or, given what appears at least today as an apparent recovery, was it nothing at all? For all I know it could have been the full moon, a ghost, a sound he was hearing that I wasn’t, or an extended blonde moment, even though he’s more auburn.
Adding to the uncertainty, when your dog appears to be ailing, there’s always the question you ask of yourself, or at least I ask of myself: Am I under-reacting, or over-reacting? The answer of course is that, in circumstances like these, over-reacting is preferable, if not good for the bank account.
For you newcomers who haven’t memorized Ace’s breeds, I won’t repeat them here. You’ll have to look it up, just in case I ever move to one of those backward towns that enforces or is instituting breed bans — though I probably wouldn’t — but in the event of which Ace is a collie.
Let’s just say, of those breeds that showed up in the three DNA tests he has had in the past two years, one is Japanese, one is Chinese, one is German (but not a shepherd) and one is an overused and misunderstood catch-all that’s not really a breed at all.
As for all those friends and readers who have offered their opinions, I do appreciate the input, the sharing of your own experiences, and the support.
As for Ace, once he wakes up, I think he’s due for a not-too-strenuous hike.
It’s always good to work a little sunshine into the mix.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 18th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ailment, animals, behavior, breed, cushings disease, diagnosis, disease, disorders, dna, dogs, guess, guessing, health, identification, medicine, mix, mutt, mystery, pets, strange, tests, travels with ace, uncertainty, veterinarian, veterinary, won't lay down
Patrick Caleb Land, 25, was sentenced Friday to five years and four months in state prison.
“These crimes were committed with callous violence and a serious punishment is warranted,” Judge Charles Rogers said.
The maximum possible sentence was eight years, but the judge took into account Land’s guilty plea, that Land was born to a drug-using mother and that he was beaten in his youth by an adoptive mother, according to 10 News in San Diego.
According to prosecutors, Land called his girlfriend Natasha Strain last year and told her that he had come home to find Josh, her 8-year-old Golden Retriever mix, dead.
Three weeks later, he called her again to tell her that he had found her other two dogs, Jackie, a 9-year-old white shepherd mix, and Pikanik, a 50-pound mixed breed, dead in a bedroom.
No necropsy was performed in the first case, but a veterinarian determined the second two animals were beaten to death.
Prosecutors said there was evidence of attempts to suffocate the animals, and that the defendant’s DNA was found under one of the dogs’ nails.
At a preliminary hearing, a roommate of the couple testified that Land sometimes complained that Strain spent more time with her dogs than she did with him.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, accused, animals, beaten, beating, boyfriend, courts, crimes, cruelty, dna, dog, dogs, five years, guilty, killed, natasha strain, patrick caleb land, pets, prison, san diego, sentence, three dogs
What happens when you cross a Labrador retriever and a poodle?
You get a Labradoodle.
What happens when you bring together a science writer and a cartoonist?
You get a highly informative and entertaining blog, like the Philadelphia Inquirer’s, Planet of the Apes, which looks at evolution. (And God bless evolution, for, without it, we’d all be reading this through slimy fish eyes.)
Earlier this week, the blog – written by Faye Flam and illustrated by Tony Auth – examined what makes dogs so diverse a species.
Is the diversity a result of evolution, or man’s infernal tinkering?
The answer to why there’s such a range in head shapes, snouts, coats and size — why some dogs are up to 40 times the size of others — may be in DNA.
(DNA, of course, being the answer to just about everything nowadays, with the possible exception of where did I put my car keys.)
Flam turned to Elaine Ostrander, a geneticist who studies dogs at the National Institutes of Health, for some help solving the mystery.
“Ostrander said two possible genetic explanations exist for dog variability. One is that something latent in the DNA of wolves allowed them to be transformed into both Great Danes and dachshunds. Under that view, she said, pushed-in noses and floppy ears and spots were all embedded in the wolf genome.
“The evidence against this, she said, is that we never see wolves born with pug noses or polka dots.
“The other view is that the genes underlying these traits don’t exist in the wolf, but that wolf DNA is very good at spinning out new variants – that it’s particularly ‘plastic.’”
Flam goes on to explain that that “plasticity” may stem from the parts of the DNA that don’t make up the genes, but control how those genes work. Seven percent of the dog’s DNA, for example, is made of strings of code called SINEs that appear to have copied themselves throughout the dog chromosomes.
Between dog generations, SINEs can copy themselves in new spots on the chromosomes. And sometimes, the location of these SINEs can influence traits. Australian shepherds, for example, have blue-gray coats due to the invasion of a SINE into the middle of a gene for coat color.
While SINEs crop up in other animals, including us humans, dogs may be particularly rich in these and related bits of variable and movable DNA, according to Ostander.
In other words, or so it seems to me, when it comes to diversity, it’s just another thing dogs are better at than us.
(Graphic: By Tony Auth / Philadelphia Inquirer)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeding, breeds, chromosomes, coats, dna, dog, dogs, elaine ostrander, evolution, faye flam, genes, national institutes of health, pets, philadelphia inquirer, planet of the apes, science, shape, sines, size, species, tony auth, wolf