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Tag: dump

Fecal responsibility: Boulder looks at DNA testing to track down poop scofflaws

poopquestionBoulder City Councilwoman Mary Young wants to know how feasible it would be to require DNA samples from dogs, and create a registry so that, through DNA analysis, poop left on city trails could be traced to dog owners.

She’s not suggesting every dog in Boulder be tested (yet) — just the estimated 35,000 with so-called “green tags” that allow them to romp off-leash on some of the city’s trails and greenspaces.

Young has asked that the issue be discussed at tonight’s City Council meeting, the Boulder Daily Camera reports. (Yes, it happens to be an April Fools Day meeting, but nobody’s joking here.)

I would hope Boulder looks not just at whether it can be done (it can), but at whether it should be — that city leaders consider, in addition to the price tag of such a venture, the ethics and implications and utter goofiness of it.

There’s a lot of dog-related technology I don’t like (click the banner at the top of this page for one example) and poop-detection technology is near the top of the list.

Not just because of its Orwellian overtones, not just because it’s heavy-handed, dictatorial, silly, creepy, intrusive and expensive.  It’s also because technology, unleashed, has a habit of oozing beyond the boundaries of its originally intended purpose — DNA-testing of dog poop being just such a case — and spreading into ever scarier realms.

The day could still come when your tossed cigarette butt, un-recycled soda can or expectorated phlegm could be traced back to you, which, come to think of it, might be a better use of DNA technology than that being offered by the dog poop sleuths.

Declaring war on poop, and bringing out technology’s big guns, is overkill. Especially when the real solution can be achieved by simply bending over and picking up what your dog leaves behind.

In case you haven’t been following our posts on this issue, here’s how it works:

Deciding unscooped dog poop is simply intolerable, homeowners associations, apartment complexes or government entities sign up with a company called PooPrints, which sends them the supplies needed for residents to take swabs from the cheeks of their dogs. Those are sent to Tennessee, and a doggie DNA registry is created.

After that, any pile of poop that is found can be gathered, packaged and sent to a lab in Tennessee, where it can be unpackaged and tested and, by comparing DNA markers, matched to an individual dog, assuming that dog’s DNA is in the registry.

The company lets management know who the poopetrator was, and the owner is fined $100 or so — or, if a repeat offender, perhaps told they and/or their dog should move somewhere else. Thereby a community is made safe from scofflaws, as well as, say, a grandmother whose back might have been hurting too much one day to pick up every last dropping left by her Shih Tzu.

Here in my current home state, North Carolina, apartment complexes in Winston-Salem and Wilmington are among the growing number of property management companies and government entities turning to PooPrints.

Yes, dog poop can be hazardous to our health, and harmful to the environment.

So can the feces of all the non-domesticated animals we live among, but don’t feel compelled to prosecute for pooping.

danriversludgeSo, too, can the dumpage of corporate entities, like the thousands of tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River by Duke Energy, coating 70 miles of the river with toxic sludge.

That’s a little harder to pick up after, and, I’d suggest, at least as deserving of society’s consternation and oversight and vigilance as dog poop — even if punishing the culprit won’t make them change their ways. (Big companies, unlike the average dog owner, can hire lawyers to avoid fines, and, if unsuccessful, they just pass the costs along to their customers.)

Finding clean sources of energy — that’s a use of technology I like. Using DNA to solve murders  (and clear the wrongly convicted) seems a good use,  too.

But gathering, packaging and mailing dog poop so technicians in Tennessee can comb through it and test it, by comparison, seems a silly use of our technological muscles.

In Colorado, Boulder officials say dog waste on public trails is one of the most common complaints the city receives, so it’s not surprising that they’d turn to a company that claims to have the solution.

Eric Mayer, director of business development for BioPet Vet Lab in Knoxville, Tenn., said the company’s PooPrint service is used by private property management companies in 45 states and in Canada. Franchises are popping up all over, like Burger Kings.

So far, the company doesn’t have contracts with any municipalities, but officials have been in talks with a half dozen different local governments. He said he expects to sign the first municipal PooPrints contract with Ipswich, Mass., sometime this year.

Maybe, if poop detection continues to catch on, it would be good for the economy. Maybe, you too could have a fulfilling career as a dog poop laboratory technician.

But there are far better ways to spend our time and money, and far bigger problems more deserving of our rage. Between all the emotion, and all the technology, we seem to forget that we can simply …

Pick it up!

(Top photo, fake poop question mark, from Big Mouth Toys; bottom photo, sludge from the Dan River spill, courtesy of Dan River Basin Association)

Miracle or not, Gem emerges from the rough

gem

Given this dog’s situation — dumped inside a plastic bag at a recycling plant that processes 400 tons of debris a day, loaded by bulldozer onto a large conveyor belt, and on her way to a chute that would have dropped her 20 feet into a landfill — you  might think nothing short of a miracle would save her.

While there may have been some of that involved, the three-month-old, five-pound poodle puppy has some alert workers to thank as well.

Just yards from the chute, one recycling worker noticed the bag moving. He slammed on the conveyer belt’s emergency brake as another worker climbed onto the belt to remove the dog.

Since named Gem, the dog, rescued — and we do mean rescued — the Friday before Christmas, is recovering from her injuries.

“It’s difficult to imagine how the dog survived this ordeal,” said Robert Reed, a spokesman for Recology, a recycling program in San Francisco that sorts through heavy debris from construction projects, such as concrete, metal and lumber. ”Nothing like this has happened before.”

Reed said the dog was likely thrown, inside the bag, into a bin for construction material, picked up by a garbage truck and hauled to the dump. Once in the dump, the dog likely had large amounts of debris dumped atop her, only to be later scooped up by a bulldozer and end up on the conveyor belt.

While riding along the conveyor belt, Gem went through a shaking process, aimed at removing excess dirt from the debris, and she was yards from passing into the chute when workers stationed along the conveyor belt noticed her.

“I was on the line working on the conveyor belt and there was a black trash bag coming down the line,” Gregory Foster told ABC News. “It had a hole in it and I could see it moving.”

After he activated the belt’s emergency brake, another co-worker climbed up on the belt and pulled the dog — wet, bloody and shaking – out of the bag.

gem1Another worker, Arturo Pena, found a box and blanket, wrapped the dog up and fed her some spare ribs, fried rice and pizza.

The San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control was called, and Gem is now in its care.

“We’re getting a lot of people calling, wanting to adopt her, foster, and offer donations for her care,” a spokesperson said. The agency received more than 100 telephone calls inquiring about the dog in three hours.

Many remain mystified how the dog survived what she did.

“It’s a miracle, it’s a Christmas miracle. That’s what it is,” Pena said.

But we’d give some of the credit to assembly line workers who managed, amid the monotony of their jobs, to stay alert.

And we’d give at least an equal amount to Gem, one plucky little dog.

(Top photo, CBS News; bottom photo, Arturo Pena)

Dog in Thailand saves baby left at dump site

puiA dog in Thailand is being credited with saving the life of a newborn girl.

Pui, a Thai Bankaew, found a plastic bag in a trash bin, carried it with his mouth back to his owner’s house, dropped it on the ground and barked.

The owner’s 12-year-old niece opened the bag and found the baby  inside, according to the Bangkok Post.

Pui, who authorities said regularly wanders around town, found the bag at dump site in tambon Sala Loi in Tha Rua district and toted it back to the home of his master, Gumnerd Thongmak. After his 12-year-old niece, Sudarat, opened the bag, the baby was transported to nearby Phranakhon Sri Ayutthaya Hospital.

babyThe newborn, who doctors say was born nearly two months prematurely, weighed only 4 pounds.  Authorities are searching for her mother.

Pui was awarded a leather collar and a medal from the Tha Rua  district Red Cross chapter for his heroic actions, and his master received  10,000 baht reward from The Miracle of Life Foundation.

(Photo: Sunthorn Pongpao / Bangkok Post)

Toxic dumping turned Russian dogs green

greendogA pack of wild dogs roaming the outskirts of the Russian city of Yekaterinburg have taken on a green tinge, and authorities suspect it’s from scavenging for food in a dump that may be contaminated with chemical waste.

The greenish dogs are among a pack of about 20 strays, believed to be former guard dogs.

“I go past those dogs every day,” villager Alexei Bukharovsky told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “They are usually reddish … but then I saw, running along the white snow, an almost completely emerald dog. At first I thought someone had been playing a joke.” 

A police spokesman told the news service that illegal dumping of chemical waste is probably to blame. The spokesman said local councils had been ordered to clean up the site.

You can see more photos here.

Support seems thin for dumping Westminster

PETA’s suggestion that the USA Network discontinue its broadcast of the Westminster Dog Show — on the grounds that the show reinforces unhealthy breed standards — doesn’t seem to be garnering a lot of pubic support, if a poll by the Los Angeles Times animal blog, “Unleashed,” is any indication.

PETA’s request came on the heels of the BBC’s announcement that it won’t be airing the prestigious Crufts dog show because of concerns that purebred breeders, in their quest to meet dog show appearance standards, are endangering the health of some breeds.

Unleashed puts this question to readers: “Do you agree with PETA that the USA Network should refrain from airing Westminster?

“Yes — breeding dogs for the show ring is unethical and shouldn’t be supported.

“No — dog breeders promote responsible pet ownership and dog shows are fun to watch.”

As of 7:30 last night, the “No” votes held a 4,682 to 356 lead.

To see the comments, and vote, click here.

(Image: Commemorative poster for the Feb. 9-10, 2009 Westminster Dog Show)