Boulder 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.
So, 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)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 1st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amok, animals, apartments, biopet, boulder, clean, coal ash, colorado, communities, dan river, detection, dna, dog, dog owners, dog related technology, dogs, duke energy, dump, dumping, enforcement, ethics, feces, fine, franchises, genetics, identify, laboratory, markers, north carolina, owners, pets, poop, pooprints, questions, registry, responsibility, samples, scoop, shit, spill, swabs, technology, waste, wilmington, winston-salem
The Huffington Post reported that the “Les Misérables” star was walking her dog on the day after Christmas and found herself being followed by a man with a camera.
When Esmerelda pooped, Hathaway dutifully scooped it up in a yellow plastic bag, and knotted the top.
Then, the website reports, she placed the bag on the windshield of the unidentified photographer’s car and walked away.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actress, animals, anne hathaway, bag, car, dog, dogs, entertainment, esmerelda, les miserables, movies, paparazzi, paparazzo, pets, photographer, poop, pooparazzi, scoop, waste, windshield
Downtown Los Angeles is enjoying a spurt in growth, and with that has come a growth in spurts.
But just where in that concrete Shangri-La-La is a dog supposed to pee?
With the revitalization of downtown, and a campaign to attract upwardly mobile types (and their dogs), more of both are relocating to the area — only to find that convenient places for dogs to urinate weren’t part of the makeover, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The latest attempt to address the problem has been to locate small — and we do mean small — patches of artificial turf in areas designated (by humans) for canine toileting needs. As you can see above, it’s hardly a dog park.
Blair Besten, executive director of the Historic Downtown Business Improvement District, said patches began being installed in August as part of a trial run. Three tree wells that no longer contained trees, in spaces away from restaurants and heavy pedestrian traffic, were used to install 4-by-4-foot patches of artificial grass.
If they’re popular and hold up to regular use, the program may be expanded, Besten told the newspaper.
By redirecting dogs to the patches, she said, the city can cut down on odors, peed-upon buildings, sidewalks and trash cans, and the residue that is tracked into offices and apartments. The patches are located at Spring and 7th, near the corner of 7th and Main, and on 6th just after Main.
“They should have put them in a long time ago,” said downtown resident Helena Gaeta, who has trained her dachshund-Chihuahua mix to go in tree wells. While downtown advertising campaigns targeted dog owners, she noted, there isn’t much greenspace available to dogs.
A survey by the Downtown Center Business Improvement District this year showed one of every three residents of the area owns a dog.
“Dogs have been the greatest thing for the downtown L.A. renaissance,” said Hal Bastian, executive vice president of the district. ”It creates a community because more people are on the streets. It’s a better environment.”
But even with dog owners scooping up poop — and, of course, not all do — pee remains a problem.
Not all dogs find the patches pee-worthy. Josh Jacobson, who recently moved from downtown Long Beach, said his two Chihuahuas avoid the turf patches, possibly because they hold too many scents.
“The dogs are still trying to figure it out,” he said.
(Photo: One of the patches of artificial turf installed in downtown L.A.; by Bethany Mollenkof / Los Angeles Times )
Posted by John Woestendiek December 3rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, artificial, core, district, dog, dog owners, dog parks, dogs, downtown, grass, greenspace, growth, historic, historic downtown business improvement, los angeles, newcomers, patches, pee, pet owners, pets, renaissance, revitalization, turf, urban, urinate, walking, waste
So — yucky as it is – it’s only right to share some news that shows the reverse side of the equation can be true, too.
According to a report from the German newspaper Tagesspiegel, dogs in Berlin are being sickened by human feces left in some public parks frequented by drug users.
Veterinarians say they’ve seen an increase in such poisonings.
Dogs who ingest the waste show symptoms that include shaking, dehydration and difficulty walking. Tests on dogs have found heroin and other illegal drugs present in their systems.
Vets say most cases took place in parks the city’s Treptow and Kreuzberg areas, where drug users are known to gather, especially at night.
Berlin-based veterinarian Reinhold Sassnau told Tagesspiegel that the poisonings are rarely fatal. Most dogs recover if they quickly receive treatment, which includes inducing vomiting. Otherwise, prolonged treatment might be required.
Just something to keep in mind next time you (or your dog) step in a pile of dog poop (or is it?) at the park.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 24th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: addicts, berlin, defecation, dog, dog poop, drug, environment, feces, germany, hazard, health, heroin, human, human poop, ingesting, parks, poop, public, toilets, users, waste
There might not be any town as intent — you might even say obsessed — with wiping out dog poop as Brunete, Spain.
First, officials in the town on the outskirts of Madrid launched a social awareness campaign, aimed at encouraging pet owners to pick up after their dogs.
Part of it included a remote control pile of poop on wheels, which approached citizens bearing the message “Don’t leave me, pick me up!”
“The amount of dog poo on our streets dropped considerably as a result,” a town spokesman is quoted as saying in this article.
When “volume” started rising again, the town opted for a sneakier approach — though it, too, has an in-your-face element.
In February of this year, officials in the town of 10,100 assigned 20 volunteers to patrol the streets in search of dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs.
Upon seeing an offense, the undercover volunteers approach the owners and strike up a casual conversation — not mentioning the poop, just feigning interest in the dog and asking about its name and breed.
Once the dog walker departs, the volunteer would pick up the dog poop and put it in a box. Then, using the town’s database of registered dogs, they find out the address of the dog walker. Then they’d deliver the surprise package by hand to the pet owner’s home, along with an official warning.
If that weren’t embarassing enough, they film the reunions between dog owners and their dog’s poop.
Brunete Town Hall estimates the program has reduced the amount of unpicked up dog waste by 70 percent.
Officials aren’t sure whether it’s the threat of the fine, receiving a package of poop, or getting humiliated on camera that’s doing the trick, but they say the program seems to be working.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, brunete, campaign, clean up, control, deliver, dog, dog owners, dog poop, dog walkers, dogs, feces, fines, home, pets, pick-up, pile, poo, poop, remote, scoop, sidewalks, spain, streets, town, warnings, waste
When are you responsible for picking up the poop of someone else’s dog?
Apparently, in San Francisco, when it ends up on your roof.
When a building manager complained to the city’s health department that dog feces was piling up on top of the pet-free residential building — and that she suspected it was being left there by a dog from an adjoining pet-friendly building – an inspector came to investigate.
A week later, a “Notice of Violation” letter arrived in the mail — not to the offending dog’s owner, or even to the adjacent bulding, but to the manager who had complained. The notice declared her rooftop a public nuisance and threatened a $163 fine if the waste was not immediately removed.
The tale was told in the Bay Citizen, and reprinted yesterday in The New York Times, by columnist Scott James, who knows the manager, a fellow writer named Diane Archer who also lives in the building.
Before contacting the city, Archer — based on another resident having witnessed a dog crossing over from the roof next door — complained to the neighboring building’s owner. When it continued to be an issue, she went to the police, who sent her to the Department of Public Health.
On Jan. 13, Irene Sanchez, a health department investigator, toured the roof, took notes, and promised action — and, to Archer’s surprise, that action was against her, or at least her pet-free building.
Sanchez, noting she never saw the dog in question, said she had no choice. Even though Archer’s building had been victimized, it was responsible for cleaning up the mess. A health department spokeswoman, said that, unfair as it may seem, “someone has to clean it up” — and whether it’s poop or graffiti, the building owner bears that responsibility in San Francisco.
Scott James, the columnist, said he had no trouble finding the suspect – Jane, a 50-pound, shepherd mix who appaprently was sneaking up to the roof. Jane belongs to the girlfriend of a resident of the adjoining building.
The job of cleaning up after Jane fell to Archer, the original complainant, who scooped each pile up with a plastic sack and disposed of it.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cities, clean, courtesy, dog, etiquette, feces, health, law, neighbors, pets, pick-up, poop, responsibility, roof, rooftop, san francisco, scoop, waste
“All Over Albany” has noticed that dog poop is, well, all over Albany — and they’ve fashioned a helpful flow chart to help address the (fecal) matter.
(Click on the illegible version above to be taken to the full size chart. Then come back, for this isn’t just an upstate New York issue, but a national, nay, global one.)
At my park in Baltimore, and probably your’s, it seems that, when the snow and cold arrive, the manners of some otherwise responsible dog owners depart.
Whether it’s because people don’t want to traipse throught the snow to scoop it up, or because it’s just so darned cold, there are a lot more lingering dog droppings to be seen, and stepped in.
In a perfect world, those not scooping would be the ones stepping in it — but it never seems to work out that way.
And while, granted, solidly frozen poopage won’t despoil your footwear, neglected droppings, amid continued freeze and thaw, can come back to haunt us.
“We’ve thought a lot about this issue,” Alloveralbany.com reported in a piece last month. “And we finally came to the conclusion that winter somehow impairs the ability of some people to make good decisions about whether they should pick up their dog’s poop.
“So, we’re here to help. We’ve constructed a flow chart to assist citizens of the Capital Region in their decision-making process on the all important question: ‘It’s winter. My dog has pooped. What now?’”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 29th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: albany, all over albany, animals, civility, cold, dog, dog poop, dog poop flow chart, dogs, feces, flow chart, freezing, frozen, ice, manners, pet owners, pets, pick up the poop, pick-up, poop, poopsicle, responsible, scoop, shit, snow, turd, waste, weather, winter, wintry
A University of Maine graduate student says he has found a bone fragment from what he believes is the earliest domesticated dog ever found in the Americas — one that walked the continent 9,400 years ago.
And where he found it — ensconced in a dried-out sample of human waste — gives proof that eating dog was part of America’s culture, at least before America was America.
Graduate student Samuel Belknap III came across the fragment while analyzing a sample of human waste unearthed in the 1970s. Carbon-dating placed the age of the bone at 9,400 years, and a DNA analysis confirmed it came from a dog — as opposed to a wolf, coyote or fox.
The Associated Press reports that the fragment — which was the dark orange color characteristic of bone that has passed through the digestive track — was found in Hinds Cave in southwest Texas.
The fragment provides the earliest evidence that dogs were eaten by humans in North America, and may have been bred as a food source, he said.
Belknap was studying the diet and nutrition of the people in the Lower Pecos region of Texas between 1,000 and 10,000 years ago when he came across the bone.
Belknap and other researchers from the University of Maine and the University of Oklahoma’s molecular anthropology laboratories, where the DNA analysis was done, have written a paper on their findings, scheduled for publication in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology later this year.
The fragment is about six-tenths of an inch long and three- to four-tenths of an inch wide. Belknap said he and a fellow student identified the bone as a fragment from where the skull connects with the spine. He said it came from a dog that probably resembled the small short-haired dogs that were common among the Indians of the Great Plains.
Other archaeological findings have found evidence of domestic dogs in the U.S. as long as 8,000 years ago.
A 1980s study reported dog bones found at Danger Cave, Utah, were between 9,000 and 10,000 years old, but those dates were based on an analysis of the surrounding rock laters as opposed to carbon dating. In Idaho, researchers believed they’d found 11,000-year-old dog bones, but later tests showed them to be no more than 3,000 years old.
Worldwide, studies have found evidence of dogs going back 31,000 years from a site in Belgium, 26,000 years in the Czech Republic and 15,000 years in Siberia.
The earliest dogs in North America are believed to have come with the early settlers across the Bering land bridge from Asia.
Belknap said eating dogs was once common in Central America, and that some Great Plain Indian tribes ate dogs when food was scarce or for celebrations.
”It was definitely an accepted practice among many populations,” he said.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, analysis, anthropology, archaeology, ate, bone, carbon dating, diet, digested, dna, dog, domesticated, earliest, eaten, evidence, excrement, first, fragment, hinds cave, human, indians, nutrition, oldest, research, samuel belknap, study, texas, university of maine, waste
A New York woman claims two Queens police officers roughed her up during a dispute over whether she failed to pick up her dog’s waste.
Anna Stanczyk, 49, insisted her terrier, Psotka (“prankster” in Polish), had only urinated, and says that the police officers punched her after handcuffing her and pushing her into their patrol car.
The police department’s Internal Affairs division has opened an investigation into her claims, the New York Daily News reports.
Stanczyk’s lawyer said the incident took place Nov. 26.
Stanczyk was confronted in Rockaway Beach by two officers from the 100th Precinct who accused her of not picking up a pile of feces left by her dog. The officers — Shaun Grossweiler, a 4-year veteran, and Richard DeMartino, a 10-year veteran — charged her with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Police, in court papers, said Stanczyk caused a ruckus by yelling at them.
Photos taken by her son — printed in yesterday’s Daily News — show Stanczyk, a housewife who emigrated from Poland, with a blackened left eye and a large bruise on her breast. She said she also suffered hand and knee injuries and needs physical therapy.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abuse, altercation, anna stanczyk, black eye, bruises, brutality, claims, confrontation, dog, dogs, feces, injuries, investigation, law enforcement, new york, new york city, pick-up, poland, police, polish, poop, psotka, queens, scoop, terrier, video, waste, welt
Dog feces is being used to keep the lights on — well, one light, anyway – at a park in Cambridge.
Conceptual artist Matthew Mazzotta, through an MIT-funded project known as Project Park Spark, is the brains behind the scheme, in which a “methane digester” is used to to convert freshly scooped dog waste into methane.
Dog owners simply collect their dog waste in a special biodegradable bag and throw it into an air-tight cylinder. The feces are broken down by anaerobic bacteria. The process produces methane, which is then released through a valve and burnt as fuel — in this case to power an old-fashioned gas-burning lamppost in the park.
Mazzotta is open to other suggestions on how to use the flame, and suggestions have included a teahouse, popcorn stand and shadow-projection box.
It’s a pretty brilliant use of dog waste, which, when it goes into landfill, releases methane into the atmosphere. Harnessing it is a far better idea, considering methane is a potent greenhouse gas more than times more harmful than carbon dioxide, WIRED reports.
Mazzotta hopes to install permanent underground digesters in parks throughout the United States.
(Photo: Project Park Spark)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, digesters, dog, dog feces, dogs, environment, feces, gas, lamp, light, mathew mazzotta, methane, mit, park, pets, poop, power, powered, project park spark, science, waste