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
These scenes come from a rescue of laboratory beagles a year and a half ago, but they seemed a good way to start off a new year — and a touching reminder to appreciate the simple things we tend to take for granted.
Like grass, and fresh air.
The nine laboratory beagles shown here – like most beagles bred for lives in labs — had never been outside, seen or stepped on grass.
On June 8, 2011, they were rescued by the Beagle Freedom Project from an undisclosed research laboratory, and, with a six-hour drive ahead, allowed to romp in grass for the first time in their lives.
Watching them take those first uncertain steps is pretty moving.
The Beagle Freedom Project was started in December 2010 by Shannon Keith after he learned what beagles — the most popular breed for research because of their trusting personalities — go through in research labs.
Its mission is to rescue and find homes for beagles used in laboratory research.
Research facilities obtain beagles directly from commercial breeders, who raise them for that purpose.
According to the project’s website, university and other research facilities use the beagles for medical, pharmaceutical, household products and cosmetics tests. Some labs attempt to find homes for them when the dogs have finished serving science.
The project works directly with the labs, making arrangements to remove and transport beagles and place them in loving homes. All rescues are done legally with the cooperation of the facility.
Once rescued, laboratory beagles need to learn how to be dogs, and live as pets. Most have never seen children, cats, televisions, sunshine, or grass. They’ve not been house-trained, and are unfamiliar with toys and leashes.
The Beagle Freedom Project warns potential adopters that the dogs may be fearful of people initially, may have phobias from a lifetime in confinement or from being restrained, are likely to have been surgically de-barked by the breeder, and have an ID number tattooed in their ear.
Neither the project, nor those who adopt the dogs, know what specific kind of experiments the dog might have been involved in.
But dogs are quick learners and with time, the project says, “these dogs will learn how to become dogs, and their transformation will be amazing.”
Beagle Freedom Project is a service of Animal Rescue, Media & Education (ARME). Founded in 2004, ARME is a nonprofit advocacy group created to eliminate the suffering of all animals through rescue, public education and outreach.
(Photo and video from the Beagle Freedom Project)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 4th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, beagle freedom project, beagles, breeders, cosmetics, dogs, experiments, laboratory, laboratory beagles, medical, pets, pharmaceuticals, rescue, rescued, research, science, testing
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
A killer whale poops. It floats to the surface (and we don’t mean the whale.) A dog on a boat sniffs it out. Humans gather it up, and take it to the lab for analysis.
It’s not an entirely natural cycle of nature — but when all is said and done, or sniffed out and scrutinized, researchers in the Puget Sound hope it may help explain what’s killing off our killer whales, and maybe hold some clues to how our planet is doing as well.
Scientists aren’t certain why Orcas, placed on the endangered species list in 2005, aren’t recovering. Some suspect it’s a lack of food, or that boat traffic and pollution are to blame. But they think an answer maybe found in whale poop, and have turned to a dog to help find samples for analysis.
“It looks kind of like a combination of algae and snot. It varies in color, but it’s very mucusy,” Sam Wasser, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, explained on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Via the feces, Wasser says, “we can measure the diet of the animal. We can get toxins from the feces, DNA so we can tell the individual’s identity, its species, its sex — and all of this is in feces.
He describes whale poop as “literally a treasure trove of information.”
Wasser, who has turned to “scat detection” dogs for help with other projects, is being helped out on this one by Tucker, an 8-year-old black Lab mix.
They are focused on San Juan Island’s Snug Harbor, and as they cruise out on their research boat, Tucker stands at the bow. If there’s whale poop around — even in the distance — he lets his trainer, Liz Seely, know by acting excited.
“…He’ll start standing up on the bow, wagging his tail, getting really animated,” she said.
His reward for accurately detecting floating whale feces? A game of fetch.
The research team will collect samples from killer whales through the summer. Already, they’ve been able to show that during periods of high traffic, like around he 4th of July, the whales have higher levels of stress hormones in their feces.
They can also tell when the whales are undernourished and study how that might affect fertility rates.
Killer whales are believed to have the highest concentrations of toxic substances of any creature on the planet.
Given how we humans are responsible for that, scooping their poop seems truly the least we can do. And finding some answers within it, with help from a dog, could turn out not just to help the whales, but us as well.
(Photo: Ashley Ahearn / KUOW)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 9th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: all things considered, analysis, animals, boat, center for conservation biology, dog, dogs, endangered, feces, fertility, food, killer whales, liz seely, orcas, pets, poop, project, puget sound, research, sam wasser, scat-detecting, species, stress, testing, toxins, trainer, tucker, university of washington, washington, waste
Bob Barker has made a new public service annoucement for PETA, aimed at calling attention to the suffering of animals used for product testing.
Many animals are poisoned, blinded, and killed every year in product tests for cosmetics, personal-care products, and household cleaning products — even though non-animal tests are available.
On top of that, the results of animal tests are often unreliable or not applicable to humans, PETA says.
Barker urges consumers to research before they buy, and suggests visiting PETA’s website to order the organization’s free cruelty-free shopper’s guide.
“The price is never right on products tested on animals,” Barker says.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal testing, animals, blinded, bob barker, cleaning, cosmetics, cruelty free, free, killed, laboratory, peta, pets, poisoned, price is right, products, psa, public service annoucement, shopping guide, testing, tests
(Warning: This video contains disturbing images and profanity.)
A North Carolina grand jury has returned indictments for 14 felony counts of cruelty to animals against four workers at a private research laboratory in North Carolina.
PETA, which first brought to light abuses at Professional Laboratory Research Services (PLRS), said the indictments mark the first time in U.S. history that laboratory workers have faced felony cruelty charges for their abuse of animals in a laboratory.
PLRS was the subject of a PETA undercover investigation last fall.
Those indicted were Mary Ramsey, who had been employed as a PLRS supervisor, and Jessica Detty, who were each charged with five counts, and Christine Clement and Tracy Small, who were each indicted on two counts.
The accused, PETA says, are among those caught on the video above, kicking, throwing, and dragging dogs; hoisting rabbits by their ears and puppies by their throats; slamming cats into cages; and screaming obscenities at animals.
One of those named is the worker seen trying to rip out a cat’s claws by pulling the animal from the fence onto which he or she clung, PETA said.
The state charges follow extensive citations by federal officials for violations of animal welfare laws. The lab was closed last year, and more than 200 dogs and 50 cats were surrendered.
For nine months, a PETA investigator worked undercover inside the facility, located in Gates County, in rural northeastern North Carolina.
PLRS tested insecticides and other chemicals used in companion-animal products for Bayer, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Schering-Plough (now Merck), Sergeant’s, Wellmark, and Merial.
The PETA investigation found that toxicity tests were just part of what the animals endured. Laboratory workers cursed at animals, used pressure hoses to spray water (as well as bleach and other harsh chemicals) on them; and dragged dogs through the facility.
Dogs at PLRS spent years in cages, either to be used repeatedly in tests or to be kept infested with worms for some future study, PETA says.
To cut costs, PETA says, PLRS killed nearly 100 cats, rabbits, and dogs. The company had decided that some of these animals’ six daily cups of food were too expensive.
PETA says the case is only the second criminal prosecution in the U.S. of laboratory workers for animal cruelty. The first also stemmed from a PETA investigation — that of the infamous Silver Spring Monkeys in 1981.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuses, animal cruelty, animal research, animals, cats, charges, chemicals, christine clement, dogs, drug companies, drugs, experiments, felony, gates county, grand jury, indictments, jessica detty, lab, lab workers, laboratory, mary ramsey, north carolina, peta, pets, plrs, product, professional laboratory research services, rabbits, research, testing, toxicity, tracy small, undercover, veterinary, video, workers
Sure, you can extract DNA samples from every dog in your community, establish a database, pick up and pack up samples of any unscooped poop, send it to an out of state laboratory, pay a fee, and then await test results that will identify the poopetrator, assuming he or she is in the database in the first place.
Or, you can gently and wittily remind dog owners of their responsibility.
I’m more comfortable in a community that does the latter.
Earlier this week we told you about an apartment complex in Lebanon, New Hampshire, that will begin testing the DNA of unscooped dog poop found on the premises.
The video above, I think, reflects a far more civilized, less Big Brotherish approach to the problem.
In a effort to remind people what uncollected dog poop does to the region’s health, a Seattle area organization called Puget Sound Starts Here launched “Dog Doogity,” a music video to encourage people to pick up after their pets, according to KING 5 in Seattle.
Puget Sound Starts Here is a coalition of state and local agencies that works educate the public on protecting the health of the Sound. The coalition says pet waste contains disease-causing organisms that can carry into the Puget Sound and other local waters.
“For every four and a half people there is one dog in the Puget Sound area and almost all of that is going outside,” said campaign coordinator Suzi Wong Swint. “People just don’t think about dog poop and the major contributions it has on the quality of our water. So, this campaign is trying to encourage people to pick up their dog’s poop in their backyards as well as on their walks.”
The music video features Puget Sound locations in Seattle, Everett and Tacoma. It was inspired by Blackstreet’s 1996 hit, “No Diggity,” and features soul singer Martin Luther and dog Lola.
For more information on the campaign, click here.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, apartments, blackstreet, campaign, dna, dna testing, dog doogity, dog poop, dogs, everett, feces, lebanon, martin luther, music video, new hampshire, no diggity, pets, pick-up, poop, public awareness, public education, puget sound, rap, rap song, scoop, seattle, tacoma, testing, washington, waste