Downtown Roanoke using DNA to trace un-scooped pet waste

Local News

Forget to scoop the poop–and the dog DNA could be traced back to you. It’s all part of a new program taking place in downtown Roanoke.

Downtown Roanoke, Inc. has purchased 300 DNA kits from an animal genetics company at the cost of $40 apiece. 

“We want the residents downtown to have a good experience and the property owners to be pleased with their building downtown ,so [the cost is] something that we’re covering,” says Jaime Clark, marketing and communications specialist for Downtown Roanoke, Inc.  

16 downtown residential properties have committed to taking part in the program, meaning tenants of those buildings will have to swab their dog’s DNA and send it to BioPet Laboratories’ PooPrints service for registration. If the dog owners leave pet waste around, a sample will be collected and the DNA will be traced back to the so-called “poopetrator”. 

“It’d probably be a great way to encourage people not to leave their dog’s waste. Because that’s the thing, if no one sees you, you have no incentive to pick it up,” says Asherah Capellaro, a resident of Roanoke’s Old Southwest neighborhood.

It will be up to the property owners and managers to collect the doggy mess and send it back to the lab for testing. Some dog owners are on board with the idea.

“I live in an apartment complex and some people don’t pick up after their dogs and it’s disgusting,” says dog owner Deidra Stillwagon.

“I think anything that encourages people to be responsible for their pets is helpful,” says Bent Mountain resident Kip Stone. 

But for others, the concept is giving them reason to pause. 

“Props to downtown for actually trying to step up and trying to combat people not picking up their waste. But I don’t think that’s the way to go about it,” says Sarah Shay, a Blue Ridge resident.Shay expressed concerns that the DNA could be used to test breed types and that buildings may discriminate against certain breeds.

J. Retinger, CEO of BioPet Laboratories, describes the company as animal advocates. He says the DNA testing will not be used to look at breed types or traits. Retinger adds that on average, the program has a 92% reduction rate of dog waste. 

The kits will be distributed to the downtown buildings this week, and there’s “ruff-ly” enough for each downtown doggy.

Downtown Roanoke, Inc. will also hold a free event called “Yappy Hour” where downtown dog owners can get their dogs registered. It will be held April 23rd from 4:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. on Norfolk Avenue near the Virginia Museum of Transportation. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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