BROOMFIELD, Colo. - You take your dog out and pick up the mess it leaves behind, right?
If the answer is no – watch out.
Several communities along the Front Range are now using sophisticated testing to police those non-scoopers.
Michael Liddle lives at Retreat at the Flatirons in Broomfield and was recently fined $100 not once, but twice for apparently not scooping well enough.
“She's a Teacup Chihuahua and she’s a runt," he said. “Her droppings are no larger than what geese leave behind.”
Liddle says he’s diligent about poop-scooping.
"But the grass is really tall,” he said. “And especially at nighttime, it'll fall down in between the grass and you can't see it."
The practice of finding and fining ‘poopetrators’ is becoming more common.
"Commercial properties had a major problem with dog waste not being cleaned up," said Sam Johnson, owner of Pet Scoop and PooPrints of Colorado.
Since the introduction of PooPrints to the Colorado market two years ago - Johnson now has 50 clients, mainly apartment complexes, but also HOA’s.
A dog’s DNA is taken through a cheek swab. It’s put on file and when poop is found, it is sent to a lab. It’s then matched against all the dogs on file.
"Most of the feedback we get is really positive,” Johnson said. “The community can then enforce their pet policy."
Peggy Panzer, spokeswoman for Retreat at the Flatirons, said Tuesday all residents are well-aware of the program before they sign a lease.
"This is not a gotcha program," said Panzer. "We know that DNA testing doesn't lie. And this is one of the most effective ways to find those who have broken the rules."
Panzer also said the Retreat's rules actually prohibit residents from allowing their pets to defecate on property. The rules only allow them to do so along the fence lines of the property, but not the interior.
"We don't want our residents worried about stepping in dog waste," she said.
In fact, a sampling of nine of the 50 apartment complexes and HOA's Johnson’s company serves, shows dog waste piles have decreased by an average of 81 percent since January.
"Once people know that they have to be accountable, the problem typically just goes away," Johnson said.
Liddle doesn't question the poop patrol, just the lack of any warnings.
"I'm sure that those hits were positive,” said Liddle. “But, it's hard to get every single piece. They're really just nit-picky."
Testing each sample costs about $75. Retreat at the Flatirons charges dog owners $100 if there's a positive match. So it's not an exorbitant up-charge.
Johnson says accuracy on the tests is 99.99 percent.
“All the residents have to live with it,” said Johnson. “And deal with it, and see it and step in it. It’s not healthy. And it’s certainly not clean.”
“I understand going after blatant perpetrators,” Liddle said. “But it’s turned into just the opposite of that. I don’t know if they’re trying to pay for the DNA process which is pretty expensive. It’s just not a fair practice.”
Liddle says his complex took the $200 fine out of his November rent check, then sent him a letter four days later saying he was $200 short on the rent and needed to pay in full immediately or face an eviction process.