Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Steaming Pile of DNA


Sick and tired of the Sequester shh..tuff, and goaded by this headline: Texas Apartment to Track Dog Poop Offenders Using DNA, I decided to revisit a subject that takes me back to 1995 and 2000, but has never been solved and has now gone international.

In 2000 I saw this movie about five dogs and handlers who traveled to Philadelphia for the Mayflower Kennel Club Show to compete for Best in Show. The movie rekindled an idea I suggested at a Home Moaners Association where #2 was #1 on the agenda. The problem was never solved. And it showed up again in 2011 in the February Newsletter under Old Business. And the newsletter claimed, nobody has made any suggestions.

Dogged by this never-ending problem, I recommended a new and more positive approach … that our next major Social event be a tribute to our homeowners who own and walk their dogs… 

Our First (and possibly last) HOA Kennel Club Dog Show.

It’s time we put #2 behind us, I wrote.
“Four in 10 U.S. households include at least one dog, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. Several studies have found that 40% of Americans don't pick up their dogs' feces (women are more likely to do so than men). That means 60% do pick up their dogs doo-doo!

You've got to accent the positive, delineate the negative and don't mess with Mr. In-between”.

To add a little punch to Poop, I quoted an article from USA Today that declared: Dog Waste Poses Threat to Water…

By Traci Watson, USA TODAY ... (my summary)
Science has recently determined that dog-doo is an environmental pollutant.  At some beaches, dogs help raise bacteria levels so high that visitors must stay out of the water. Goaded by such studies, some cities have directed as much as $10,000 in the last few years to encourage dog owners to clean up after their pets. A few municipalities have started issuing citations to those who ignore pet clean-up ordinances.  Many dog lovers are in denial about their pooches' leavings.  

But researchers have named the idea that areas used by dogs pump more bacteria into waterways — the "Fido hypothesis."

Dogs generate disease-causing bacteria that make people sick. It doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure out that dog do is nasty. But it took science to determine how nasty it is.  All dogs harbor so-called coliform bacteria, which live in the gut. The group includes E. coli, a bacterium that can cause disease, and fecal coliform bacteria, which spread through feces. Dogs also carry salmonella and giardia. Environmental officials use measurements of some of these bacteria as barometers of how much fecal matter has contaminated a body of water.

The environmental impact of dog waste went unrecognized for decades. Then scientists developed lab techniques to determine the origin of fecal bacteria contaminating water. One method is a variant of DNA fingerprinting. Another method looks at the antibiotic resistance of microbes from different species.

And to add frosting to the poop cake, I talked with a friend of mine who was an expert on DNA and wrote that dog feces will soon be tracked to the dogs by DNA. Bingo! January, 2013:

Texas Apartment to Track Dog Poop Offenders Using DNA 
Careless Lone Star state dog owners, you’re on notice: Your pooch’s little front lawn “accident” could come back to haunt you if you don’t clean it up.
That’s what’s in store for residents of an apartment complex in Plano, Texas, anyway, where a local CBS affiliate reports stray dog poop is enough of a problem that the management company is deploying high-tech DNA tracking to keep “poo-prints” of its canine residents.

The common element: A company called
PooPrints, which specializes in testing canine feces. The company offers DNA kits that include an oral swab, which owners then submit to a global pet registry. The company sells a corresponding test kit that’s used to gather errant fecal matter, which PooPrints then checks against its registry using parent company BioPet Vet Lab, a biotechnology outfit located in Knoxville, Tenn.

In Plano, it works like this: The apartment complex requires that dog-owning residents bring their pets in to be swabbed, free of charge, after which they’re liable to be fined $250 if their dog’s leavings show up in a test.

 This thing is certain to spread

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