Three years ago, Giovanni Peluso was struggling to secure an apartment in Post Falls, Idaho, with his dogs, Rufus and Mac, who together weighed in at a whopping but lovable 250 pounds. After months of rejection by landlords not keen on the canines, a desperate Peluso thought he had found it: a pleasant community with all the trappings of suburbia — manicured lawns, neat picket fences, and, best of all, dog-friendly.
Only there was a catch.
Peluso’s property management company required him to surrender DNA from Rufus and Mac as part of a biometric program to catch people who don’t clean up after their pets. The service boasted the ability to match errant poop to a dog’s genetic profile, similar to police running a suspect’s DNA or fingerprints on law enforcement databases to pin them to a crime.
Peluso had no choice but to comply. The process took less than 15 minutes and was administered through a service called PooPrints. Under the supervision of his landlord, Peluso swiped Rufus and Mac’s mouths with a cotton bud provided in the PooPrints registration kit. Their samples were sent to a laboratory in Knoxville, Tennessee. Two weeks later, Peluso received “DNA profile certificates” for both animals through a platform called DNA World Pet Registry. Each profile displayed a colorful array of dots — blips of DNA that are otherwise meaningless to the untrained eye.
“It was unprofessional and fast,” says Peluso, recalling that he simply walked down to his property manager’s office to get it over with. “However, it seemed as secure as 23andMe.”
Though DNA investigations of dog poop are easily dismissable as gimmicks, renters nevertheless face hundreds of dollars in fines and even eviction if incriminated by this technology.
Today, thousands of property managers in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom are enforcing dog poop…