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Carmel may trace DNA in dog poop to find negligent owners

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. (Jan. 26, 2015)--  A central Indiana community could turn to science to solve a disgusting problem.

As it gets ready to open a new dog park, the Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation Department is looking into using DNA testing technology to track down dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets.

“It’s a problem,” said Parks Director Mark Westermeier. “We don’t want that problem in the dog parks.”

He came across a company called PooPrints, which is a self-described 'permanent pet wast management' business that has been helping hundreds of residential management companies keep their green spaces clean for the past two years.

Here's how it works:

The company sends swabs to be swiped inside of mouth of every dog using the public space. The swab collects the DNA of the dog and is then sent back to the PooPrints labs where a record is kept of the dog it belongs to.

If officials find dog waste left behind, they can send a sample to PooPrints which will test it and match it to a swab.

"The DNA is extracted from the dog waste and matches are run every day to find out who the ‘poop-eterators’ are,” explained Mike Stone, a distributor for PooPrints.

The cost of the test runs around $75 and is usually passed along to the pet owner in the form of a fine.

“(It) doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything,” said Westermeier. The cost of the swabs and registration of the dog, he added, would also be paid for by the dog owners who are using the dog park in the form of a membership fee.

PooPrints already serves around 900 residential communities nationwide. Carmel would be the first municipality to use the technology if it decides to sign up.

So why take it this far and not just stick to signs and free bags?

“Well we do that… and apparently the dogs haven’t read the signs,” answered Westermeier.

The Parks Department will create a board for the new bark parks. That board will discuss PooPrints sometime in March.