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Originally published January 18, 2013 at 8:00 PM | Page modified January 25, 2013 at 2:16 PM

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Florida condo tower to track DNA in crackdown on wayward pet poop

Threat of DNA testing to find doggy-poop violators enough for most owners to clean up after pets.

Orlando Sentinel

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ORLANDO, Fla. — A downtown Orlando, Fla., condo tower has a mess on its hands: Some residents are not cleaning up after their pooches. So it’s turning to doggy DNA testing to root out the culprits and hand hefty fines to their owners.

The Vue plans to launch the testing next month to determine who is leaving behind their dogs’ droppings on the seventh-floor pet park.

“There are always pet owners in the high-rises that do not clean up after their pets,” said Cristian Michaels, who oversees sales and marketing for the Vue. “The only way to handle this is usually to do DNA testing and then fining owners $100 per offense. Renters with multiple violations can be evicted by the association after multiple offenses.”

The Vue is one of the first properties in Central Florida to employ scientific investigations to resolve what has been a long-standing issue for apartment renters, condominium owners and others. The Vue and several other complexes in the Orlando area have contracted with PooPrints, a division of BioPet Vet Lab, Knoxville, Tenn.

Since PooPrints launched in 2010, about 300 apartments, condominiums and homeowner associations in 33 states have contracted for the service.

Here is how it works: Someone swabs the interior of dogs’ mouths, and the saliva samples are sent to a laboratory. The properties of the DNA samples are recorded and can be tested against fecal samples collected when residents fail to pick up.

The building’s seventh-floor, open-air “amenity deck” originally included a natural-grass surface, but that was replaced three years ago with synthetic turf designed specifically for pet parks. The turf has a raised surface so that liquids seep through it. Solids, however, do not.

Lisa Mason, executive director of the Vue’s property-owner association, said the DNA idea surfaced during residents meetings aimed at addressing abandoned feces and other pet-related issues. About half of the residents in the 375-unit tower have at least one pet.

“There were disease concerns, and it wasn’t an aesthetically pleasing thing, either,” Mason said. “You don’t want to be barbecuing on the deck and have the odor of feces up there.”

Complaints mounted and cameras were installed. Expenses grew as crews had to clean the site twice daily. The DNA tests, Mason said, provide a friendlier and more affordable way to address the situation.

Property managers for the Vue expect to launch the new program in mid-February during the debut of the condo tower’s new, expanded pet park.

The event will feature a “house-call” vet; contacts for dog-walking services and a dog-food-delivery service; and, possibly, a pet-obstacle course. Pet owners will be able to have their dogs swabbed for their DNA then and there.

And for dog owners who don’t attend the event, the Vue’s concierge can provide the service.