Doggies do DNA no laughing matter

When you happen upon a shadowy reflection of your own community in the news columns of a major newspaper ....

When you happen upon a shadowy reflection of your own community in the news columns of a major newspaper about a jury trial in the US national capital of Washington, DC, it’s time to “read on.”

Fairfax County is a suburb of Washington DC (actually it’s in north Virginia.) The case of a failure to “poop scoop” after a dog walk is now going before the courts – and many of the locals and neighbours are fearful they could be perceived to be involved in a “Seinfeld” or “Daily Show” episode.

The Northern Sentinel, not infrequently, runs complaint letters it receives  about doggie “do” deposits on our popular community walkways (which, I have previously described as our preferred canine toilets).

It is just one of these practices that are strongly opposed by many residents. It is like other expressions of concern and protestation about other community issues some people choose to bleat about – bad roads, the weather, slow snow removal, argumentative council foibles – or even the ‘evil intents of sinister corporations’ who might want to invest in projects that could lead to potential high-paying jobs for our towns.

We are seriously hide-bound. Most of us are content with the “status quo” and anything that interferes with the enjoyment of our morning coffee can expect to be growled at.

So walking your dog and failing to pick up its leavings remains a continuing issue with joggers, walkers and other recreational users of the walkway system here.

However, clearly, it is equally fiercely contentious in many other communities.

I Googled the subject and, believe it or not 43 million responses cropped up – forty-three million!!!

In the Washington Post, many column inches of newspaper space has been devoted to the stubborn pursuit of the miscreants – spurring the usual protestations of pet owners – “it was not my dog!”

As a non pet owner, but occasional unwilling dog walker and caretaker, I always like to see how these scrums turn out elsewhere. I’ve pretty well given up on Kitimat council taking action on its by-law on this issue.

So reading the Washington story and seeing its similarity to the frequent blow-ups by Kitimat’s walkway users, especially in spring’s often-disgusting snow-melt period, is a fascinating “fly-on-the-wall” experience.

Americans are much more litigious than  northern BC’s weather-hardened coastal residents. But court is truly “in session” in Virginia where the scene of the crime, two apartment complexes, have signed on for Pooprints, a “pet detective” service that collects DNA samples from pooches, using forensics to identify the perpetrators of un-scooped piles.

They are serious about scooping in Fairfax!

Pooprints is an advanced and expensive approach to pet ID. Dogs in the complexes have had a cheek swab taken to gather DNA.

When deposits are not cleaned up, a sample may be sent from the offending pile to match its DNA against the swab “database.”

The catch 22 in Kitimat, I’m sure, would be the cost – $30 to register your dog and $60 for the test.

But the owner of the service says business is booming and expanding, so the US economy hasn’t totally collapsed yet.

There’s also a story about a condo community in Florida which mandates the DNA requirement for all resident dogs at $200 a pop!

Whatever, it is riveting reading – and newspaper commenters (nearly 1,000 to date) have turned the case into quite a comedy show.

One apartment dweller, with a legal background, who photographed a pile of dog-dinner leftover, called the law on the walker, a friend of the dog owner, who denied complicity and claims to carry plastic bags for all “emergencies.”

But the photo will be in evidence when this comedy turns into reality courtroom drama – as well at the forensic DNA trail, which allegedly identifies the miscreant as a small Westie-bichon mix, who won’t be in court to defend himself.

But wait, lawyers and court time have been used in an earlier misdemeanour dispute between the same two litigants – so there’s a history here.

Previously the complaint was reckless driving.

 

You see how these “little things” hang around – payback is a ….!

 

 

 

Kitimat Northern Sentinel

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