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Canine CODIS
January 3, 2011 5:22 PM   Subscribe

Poo Prints: DNA Profiling for Pets; "... designed to help communities enforce their pooper scooper rules and give the pet owner tools that help them build a better relationship with their dog."

"There are an estimated 73 million dogs in the United States alone. The average dog generates 276 pounds of waste a year. That's a combined average of over 6 billion pounds, which is enough poop to fill 800 football fields one foot deep! Now that you have an idea of the amount of dog waste generated in a year, can you believe that over 40% of that goes unscooped?"

"Unscooped dog waste has become a big problem in the United States and other countries around the world. Not only is it unsightly, there are a considerable number of health and environmental concerns that get left behind."
posted by bwg (73 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
BioPet Vet Lab and the DNA World Pet Registry have recognized this growing problem and found a way to use DNA and technology to help keep our neighborhoods clean and healthy

Meanwhile, how many backlogged rape kits are sitting around waiting to tested in cities all over the country (and the world)?
posted by Gator at 5:24 PM on January 3, 2011 [22 favorites]


This was a featured topic in a recent This American Life: Episode 420: Neighborhood Watch.
posted by Morrigan at 5:35 PM on January 3, 2011


This was mentioned on This American Life recently -- Neighborhood Watch, Act 3.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:36 PM on January 3, 2011


Ooooh, too slow, too slow.

I think the TAL piece featured the same apartment manager that PooPrints gives as a testimonial.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:38 PM on January 3, 2011


Man, if ever there was a first world problem...
posted by axiom at 5:39 PM on January 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


DNA is nature's RFID. Probably more false positives, for now. But I predict that within our lifetimes, pretty much any natural DNA source including us will be able to be "read" like a bar code, with an appropriate scanner. Combine that with the "spirit world" of VR-enhanced vision, and everything and everyone will be identified all the time; and to some (growing) extent, also where it's been.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:39 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


and give the pet owner tools that help them build a better relationship with their dog."

Seriously, do they just make this (if you'll pardon the pun) crap up?

I find the trend to elevate enforcement of minor nuisance ordinances to the level of capitol crimes disturbing enough. Don't insult us all by calling some crotchety city councilman's pet peeve anything but a power trip. "Better relationship?" Riiiiiight. Say, can you fill my other hand with your rainbows and sunshine, too?

Pssst - Bears shit in the woods. Better call the DNA cops!
posted by pla at 5:40 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gator: "Meanwhile, how many backlogged rape kits are sitting around waiting to tested in cities all over the country (and the world)"

Yes, PooPrints struck me as a little too draconian, which is why I posted it. Surely we have larger issues to deal with.
posted by bwg at 5:43 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, dog shit is one of the world's top ten problems.
posted by lobstah at 5:54 PM on January 3, 2011


I have a dog and I'm ok with this, though I'd like something like two-free rides a year and some sort of non-solidity exception. The two free rides are for the inevitable: Look, I left the house with 3 bags and this is the fourth poop in a block. I asked people walking by if they had a bag and no one did. Sorry...I feel really bad, but I'm going to have to leave it.

Anyway, what I really came in to add, is that I've been thinking for a long time I would love to see something like this for cigarette litter. Pick up those butts, send them for testing and start ticketing people.

No litter in the form of poo and butts are not the biggest problems facing the world, but few of the worst problems facing the world are solveable or solveable at the municipal level. These are and -- well, call me Canadian, but -- a clean city is nice and worth the effort.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:04 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


BioPet will communicate the results of the comparison with the community contact

And upon receipt of such information the community contact shall talk everyone into giving the pooping dog and its owner the EYE OF SHAME. And, whenever the owner and the dog move, they have to introduce themselves as the pooping predators of the neighborhood.
posted by mooselini at 6:06 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I work in a genetics lab that routinely IDs various animals by their DNA, often from poo. Somebody (a human) recently used the departmental bathroom and, ahem, missed. We joked about starting a side project to find out who they were. Make the eager little undergrads do the DNA collection and extraction, etc.
posted by bergeycm at 6:09 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


mooselini: "BioPet will communicate the results of the comparison with the community contact

And upon receipt of such information the community contact shall talk everyone into giving the pooping dog and its owner the EYE OF SHAME. And, whenever the owner and the dog move, they have to introduce themselves as the pooping predators of the neighborhood
"

Or they could just rub their noses in it.
posted by bwg at 6:11 PM on January 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just remember: they executed the geese for these sorts of things; why should dogs and their owners get a pass?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:13 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


When poop is outlawed only outlaws will have poop. Seriously, all the poop will come from unidentified dogs. This is nothing but ego. "Aren't I cool, I know my dogs DNA."
posted by Xurando at 6:25 PM on January 3, 2011


The average dog generates 276 pounds of waste a year. That's a combined average of over 6 billion pounds, which is enough poop to fill 800 football fields one foot deep!

They should do this.
posted by dgaicun at 6:26 PM on January 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


Meh. Alert me when there's an mobile app for this. Frikken luddites.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:32 PM on January 3, 2011


PareidoliaticBoy: Meh. Alert me when there's an mobile app for this. Frikken luddites

There you go
posted by el io at 6:59 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, how many backlogged rape kits are sitting around waiting to tested in cities all over the country (and the world)?
Right because why solve one problem when there are other problems to solve?

Also, unlike dogs you can't just go collect DNA of every man to test against rape kits.
posted by delmoi at 7:05 PM on January 3, 2011


There are an estimated 73 million dogs in the United States alone

Since most DNA "matches" seem to fall within the "this profile is unique to one in a million" kind of range, this would mean that there is a potential for 73 dogs to have the same DNA profile.

Gods forbid you and one of your neighbors have adopted dogs from the same litter, perhaps a split zygote which resulted in twins. Or, you know... that the signature is just accidentally similar enough to generate a false positive.
posted by hippybear at 7:09 PM on January 3, 2011


Also, unlike dogs you can't just go collect DNA of every man to test against rape kits.

Eh, I can't imagine it being much easier to get a DNA sample on every dog.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:12 PM on January 3, 2011


"We didn't get a DNA match, but we know the culprit recently ate corn and peanuts."
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:24 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


No matter how silly you think you're being, Apple has it covered.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:35 PM on January 3, 2011


I find the trend to elevate enforcement of minor nuisance ordinances to the level of capitol crimes disturbing enough.

Dog poop is a major source of fecal contamination in our waterways, and one of the few we can actually control.
Bacterial source tracking studies in a watershed in the Seattle, Washington area also found that nearly 20% of the bacteria isolates that could be matched with host animals were matched with dogs. This bacteria can pose health risks to humans and other animals, and result in the spread of disease. It has been estimated that for watersheds of up to twenty-square miles draining to small coastal bays, two to three days of droppings from a population of about 100 dogs would contribute enough bacteria and nutrients to temporarily close a bay to swimming and shellfishing (US EPA, 1993).
Pooper-scooping isn't a "minor nuisance ordinance" - it's an important tool in the protection of our public waterways.
posted by muddgirl at 7:46 PM on January 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Pretty soon, the turrrsts are going to have to find another thing to hate us for.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:02 PM on January 3, 2011


Eh, I can't imagine it being much easier to get a DNA sample on every dog.


In the This American Life story about this, it actually was because every dog living in the building had to have their DNA on file (which, yes, means that this issue was a problem because people were letting their dogs shit in the building's common areas as well as outside the building in areas only accessible by tenants)

Also in the story, at least one person whose dog was busted said that he had been set up (that someone had taken their properly bagged waste and placed it out there to frame them) -- which should come as a surprise to no one as it's fairly obvious that, in a community where people let their dogs shit in the hallway and/or leave it outside, they aren't exactly friendly or considerate of their neighbors.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:18 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't help but think it would be cheaper to hire someone to pick up the poo.
posted by Felex at 8:23 PM on January 3, 2011


there's one thing everyone's missing so far - it's going to have to be someone's job to pick that poo up to be tested

turd scooper - one of the growth careers of the 21st century
posted by pyramid termite at 8:24 PM on January 3, 2011


I'm just gonna start shitting on tiny patches of grass in the sidewalk and blame in on my dogs, then.
posted by cmoj at 8:25 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and can we socialize the cost of this (to pet owners, perhaps) starting in The Netherlands?

I'm not the first to drool at this prospect; "netherlands dog shit" as a google query has this expactica article as the first hit. (when the Germans want to DNA sample every citizen's dog's shit, it seems more creepy than when the dutch want to do it).
posted by el io at 8:41 PM on January 3, 2011


I'm just gonna start shitting on tiny patches of grass in the sidewalk and blame in on my dogs, then.


That reminds me of an old George Clooney story.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:54 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I plan to keep laughing at people carrying little bags of shit around with them while they walk their dogs. That's just me though.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:08 PM on January 3, 2011


Yeah, laugh at people for doing the right thing.

Something odd I've noticed more frequently recently, on trails etc: neat little bags of dog poo, nicely collected and tied, then left sitting at the side of the trail. What's with that?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:47 PM on January 3, 2011


aeschenkarnos: But I predict that within our lifetimes, pretty much any natural DNA source including us will be able to be "read" like a bar code, with an appropriate scanner.

Why, it's almost like there should be a project for that! We can call it the consortium for the barcode of life or something.

That project is mostly about identifying samples to species, though. However, I have to say that if enough is known about the genetics of a species, it is pretty much dead easy and fairly cheap to verify with extremely good odds whether two given DNA samples are from the same individual. The cost depends on how reliable you want your results and the quality of the DNA sample (and I've no doubt that forensic sample handling costs a lot as well) but the technology is very well understood.

The only downside of all of this, right now, is that it takes a significant amount of time and money. It keeps getting faster and cheaper, but we're nowhere near barcode scanner-level yet. I'm not sure if that'll ever happen (although it's certainly not a physical impossibility.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:53 PM on January 3, 2011


We had a deal, Kyle: Something odd I've noticed more frequently recently, on trails etc: neat little bags of dog poo, nicely collected and tied, then left sitting at the side of the trail. What's with that?

People dropped them off on the way out and will pick them back up on the way back. A good system if you don't want to turn back to throw it in the trash or carry it the entire time.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:56 PM on January 3, 2011


Dog registration and/or microchip implanting is a reasonable time to do a DNA test. AFAIK in my home town all dogs must be registered with the council, and I'm pretty sure microchipping is either required or strongly encouraged. I have a pet cat, (I prefer dogs, but my lifestyle doesn't really suit a dog) and I am pretty sure when we were fairly recently required to register cats we were also required to microchip them. Or maybe I just did it because I love my cat and would like her back if she ever got lost (she's indoor-only, not my preference for most cats but this one's really not good with other cats).
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:01 PM on January 3, 2011


dgaicun: "The average dog generates 276 pounds of waste a year. That's a combined average of over 6 billion pounds, which is enough poop to fill 800 football fields one foot deep!

They should do this
"

Call Adam Savage, stat!
posted by bwg at 11:05 PM on January 3, 2011


Yeah, laugh at people for doing the right thing.

Haha, I was kidding there captian literal. And anyway if you don't think seeing people carrying around bags of poo is funny, there is something wrong with you (insert my dad saying, "i never thought I'd see the day . . . ), and you take shit clean up waaaaay too seriously. If others take my laughing as criticism, then by all means, they should fling the poo.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:55 PM on January 3, 2011


Alternatively, "he called the shit, poo".
posted by IvoShandor at 12:00 AM on January 4, 2011


aeschenkarnos: Dog registration and/or microchip implanting is a reasonable time to do a DNA test.

Just a FYI - doing that for a medium to large city would cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Basically it's $50-100 for each test (which you have to pay for every dog in the system), plus you have to have a building, hire people to handle the samples and manage the databases, buy equipment, etc. You could pass along the cost to people buying licenses, but it's going to add a pretty big chunk to the cost of a dog license. It's probably not worth it unless dog poop is an enormous problem.

On the other hand, it would produce an incredibly wealth of data about canine population genetics, and you could use it to track down irresponsible breeding and abandonment and hold the dog's owners responsible. Spay, neuter, or pay doggy child support until the no-kill shelter homes every one of those puppies.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:06 AM on January 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Green cans attached to lamp posts, with a bag dispenser on the side, seems to work very well in Switzerland. But then, it helps that the Swiss like to keep things clean in the first place. Apparently the Dutch prefer to keep things nasty. It sure isn't as clean there as it is in Switzerland.

Filling the football fields is a grand idea. Especially immediately before Superbowl Sunday. Or for the Rose Bowl, so everyone can come out smelling like roses.
posted by Goofyy at 12:59 AM on January 4, 2011


Another reason to never license your pets. Odd how civil libertarians, the rather religious, and the just-plain-paranoid are converging on some issues, such as the groundswell of invasive, tracking and tagging tech-beauracracy-bloat such as this, the TSA rape-scan, etc.
posted by zwaro at 1:01 AM on January 4, 2011


I think this makes the world a worse place. I get that dog fecal matter in the water supply is dangerous, but who is to say how much of that is actually due to the large amount of strays as opposed to people walking their dogs? Nah, I don't think this was inspired by the amount of fecal matter in the water.

I think this makes things worse because it encourages antagonism and less neighborliness. It'll be just another in a long line of actions that have decimated the sense of community in many places. Ratting people out, reporting them to the authorities. Registering private information the sole purpose of which is to get individuals in trouble. This encourages more frontier law and order type thinking rather than sociableness. More conflict, less peace.
posted by Danila at 2:53 AM on January 4, 2011


A large part of me has to wonder about how we're taking biodegradable waste off of the ground, wrapping it in plastic, and throwing it away. Isn't this, in a big-picture sort of way, really weird?

I wonder if it's really "cleaner" in a deeper sense, or if its just more pleasant for humans. I also gotta wonder if the overall health impact of poop on the ground is actually more negative than bagging it and loading it on a dumptruck.
posted by cotterpin at 3:23 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


See what you did, Kindle readers? You blew the pure-finder's noble trade out of the water, and now we're all knee-deep in surplus dogshit.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 4:10 AM on January 4, 2011


I don't mean to be alarmist, but it seems to me that forcibly DNA profiling dogs is a wedge to doing the same for humans.

No government would get an easy ride passing such a law. But what if it were a condition of employment, or flying, or buying alcohol or any number of things? Or what if a 9/11 type event forced public opinion firmly towards the creation of a database?

Let's face it: important as the conundrum of whose turd is it anyway may be, wouldn't it be so much easier to solve murders, robberies, rapes and so forth if everyone's DNA was on the database. The UK, for example, already has more than 3 million DNA samples on file - roughly one in 20 people. More than 40% of black men are on the database, apparently.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:18 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the uninformed environmentalists here: The dog shit is a problem because it is concentrated far beyond what could occur in a balanced natural setting. Like what happens when there are too many ducks in a pond, supported by constant hand-outs from people. The ducks eat and shit, and then the pond's nitrogen balance goes off, resulting in a bloom of plant life that is a net oxygen user, and so the the fish all die.
posted by Goofyy at 4:45 AM on January 4, 2011


Yeah, because dog owners are all suddenly going to decide to become members of society...

Remember: once dog shit becomes illegal, only outlaws will shit dogs.

Or something.
posted by pompomtom at 5:03 AM on January 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


We had a deal, Kyle: "Something odd I've noticed more frequently recently, on trails etc: neat little bags of dog poo, nicely collected and tied, then left sitting at the side of the trail. What's with that"

Dude, that stuff is hot when it's fresh. I'll pick it up on the way back.
posted by Splunge at 5:04 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think this will do anything to alleviate the minefield in my neighborhood. Fun was walking to work yesterday through all the unfrozen poos that had been revealed by the snowmelt. Suddenly, it was like hundreds of turds had blossomed on the pavement. Decided to walk on the street instead.

But, you know, homeboys gotta look tough. Then everyone else has to get a dog for protection from the homeboys. Shit.
posted by Eideteker at 6:31 AM on January 4, 2011


give the pet owner tools that help them build a better relationship with their dog

Ya know, if I wish to know about the poop from my dog, I can be right there for the event and I don't need a DNA test.

And most dog's don't want to see their poop again - showing a dog their own poop doesn't build a better relationship.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:54 AM on January 4, 2011


I get that dog fecal matter in the water supply is dangerous, but who is to say how much of that is actually due to the large amount of strays as opposed to people walking their dogs?

Where are these large amounts of stray dogs? Most American cities round up strays.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:54 AM on January 4, 2011


but who is to say how much of that is actually due to the large amount of strays as opposed to people walking their dogs?

A local park was shut down for several months due to soil contamination caused by pet dogs, not strays.

Stray cats, on the other hand, cause quite a few problems for aquatic life.
posted by electroboy at 7:27 AM on January 4, 2011


- People dropped them off on the way out and will pick them back up on the way back. A good system if you don't want to turn back to throw it in the trash or carry it the entire time.

- Dude, that stuff is hot when it's fresh. I'll pick it up on the way back.

Uh, yeah... uh... that's exactly what I'm doing right now.... uh... I'm just leaving it here for now. I'll uh... pick it up later...

... slowly walks away off screen, runs outside, jumps into car and peels off...
posted by bitteroldman at 7:47 AM on January 4, 2011


My aunt got a toy poodle, or something toy poodle sized, and would walk the dog, or watch it run in a dog park, refusing to pick up after it. After sufficient dirty looks, she decided to carry around a doggy bag with an appropriately sized stick in it, so she could pretend to clean up after her dog and avoid the glares. She was impressed with this solution. The rest of us are less so.
posted by jeather at 7:50 AM on January 4, 2011


A large part of me has to wonder about how we're taking biodegradable waste off of the ground, wrapping it in plastic, and throwing it away. Isn't this, in a big-picture sort of way, really weird?

I wonder if it's really "cleaner" in a deeper sense, or if its just more pleasant for humans. I also gotta wonder if the overall health impact of poop on the ground is actually more negative than bagging it and loading it on a dumptruck.


Composting toilets are cheap and good for your lawn or compost pile.

If you're already reducing your trash output in other ways (recycling, composting, choosing low-waste products), then a composting toilet for dog waste is a no brainer. If not, then why not?
posted by muddgirl at 8:07 AM on January 4, 2011


Composting toilets are cheap and good for your lawn or compost pile.

I've seen that article before, and I'm not sure it's actually a well thought out plan. Basically they're having you build a tiny septic tank without doing any of the site work that's required for a properly functioning septic system. If you're on well water, have a high water table or a nearby stream you could be risking contamination (although less risky than just leaving it on the surface).

From the article:
"In the city," Mike said, "Garbage collectors don't want dog waste to go into the truck because it gets messy and the bags explode. The sewage people don't want it down the toilet because it has a lot of grit on it and mucks it up.
The former seems dubious and the latter is just incorrect.

There's also the additional problem of getting the waste from wherever your dog shits to your composter. Most people use plastic bags, and I can't see much point in taking it out of the bag, then throwing the bag in the trash.
posted by electroboy at 8:30 AM on January 4, 2011


I can't help but think it would be cheaper to hire someone to pick up the poo.

If you fined the dog owners sufficiently, this would cost nothing to anyone but people who let their dogs shit on the sidewalk and didn't clean up after them.
posted by pracowity at 8:30 AM on January 4, 2011


Also, unlike dogs you can't just go collect DNA of every man to test against rape kits.

Know how I know you don't live in a dictatorship/communist China, delmoi?
posted by IAmBroom at 8:31 AM on January 4, 2011


I've seen that article before, and I'm not sure it's actually a well thought out plan. Basically they're having you build a tiny septic tank without doing any of the site work that's required for a properly functioning septic system. If you're on well water, have a high water table or a nearby stream you could be risking contamination (although less risky than just leaving it on the surface).

If you are not capable of contracting or doing such prep-work yourself, there are professional solutions designed for differing soils. Unfortunately, one downside of being an aware consumer is that we have to be somewhat intelligent and not just accept off-the-shelf solutions for a problem.

There's also the additional problem of getting the waste from wherever your dog shits to your composter. Most people use plastic bags, and I can't see much point in taking it out of the bag, then throwing the bag in the trash.

Of course not. I suggest a similar solution as with baby diapers - either wash the plastic lining in the toilet and accept that a small amount of waste will be added to the city water system, or use reuseable cloth bags. Another idea is to use a biodegradeable bag. Remember that we really cannot eliminate all enviromental impact: the idea is to reduce it.
posted by muddgirl at 8:46 AM on January 4, 2011


I just realized that I presented the same solution twice - whether a plastic or cloth bag is used, either way a small amount of blackwater will have to be created. The other "diaper-like" solution is to accept that some amount of trash will be created.
posted by muddgirl at 8:48 AM on January 4, 2011


If you are not capable of contracting or doing such prep-work yourself, there are professional solutions designed for differing soils.

By site work, I mean properly locating the tank and doing the soils research to ensure you're not contaminating the local groundwater. Buying a readymade garbage can with the bottom cut out doesn't accomplish that.

accept that a small amount of waste will be added to the city water system

Well, that's sort of the point. Most cities have a well-developed wastewater system that's designed to handle these sorts of things. Flushing dog waste down the toilet is certainly a better and safer solution than building a privy in your backyard.

Kind of a moot point, since the challenge is getting motherfuckers to pick up their dog waste in the first place.
posted by electroboy at 9:19 AM on January 4, 2011


Again, the city waste-water system is an easy "off-the-shelf" solution that may present a larger environmental impact. For some people it may be the best solution. For others it is not. But I am trying to combat the idea that just leaving dog shit on the ground is the best solution for environmental-minded people, which was presented directly in this thread
A large part of me has to wonder about how we're taking biodegradable waste off of the ground, wrapping it in plastic, and throwing it away. Isn't this, in a big-picture sort of way, really weird?

I wonder if it's really "cleaner" in a deeper sense, or if its just more pleasant for humans. I also gotta wonder if the overall health impact of poop on the ground is actually more negative than bagging it and loading it on a dumptruck.
It's ludicrous and lazy to say "well, since throwing it away is a shitty thing to do, we should just leave it where it is". I recognize and value your suggestions, electroboy, but I think you're missing the point of my original septic tank idea - it wasn't to present "THE BEST" solution, but to suggest a marginally better one than just leaving pet shit on the ground.
posted by muddgirl at 9:33 AM on January 4, 2011


Fair enough. I'm just not sure I see the value in presenting an alternative solution that doesn't really solve the problem and requires significant effort to accomplish.
posted by electroboy at 10:29 AM on January 4, 2011


Because if I'd said, "Just flush it down the toilet" like I did last time, someone would come along and lecture me about the significant energy costs of wastewater treatment.

I maintain that a septic system, if installed properly, is "better" than leaving fecal matter on the ground. Adding it to the blackwater we already produce is also "better".
posted by muddgirl at 10:39 AM on January 4, 2011


People worry about the silliest things.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:41 AM on January 4, 2011


> People worry about the silliest things.

Like stepping in dog shit and disease vectors?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:43 AM on January 4, 2011


I maintain that a septic system, if installed properly, is "better" than leaving fecal matter on the ground.

Clearly the best solution is to have another dog come along and eat it. Zero waste!
posted by electroboy at 10:53 AM on January 4, 2011


Burhanistan : Like stepping in dog shit and disease vectors?

No, like calling the waste of a creature likely kept healthier than its owners a "disease vector".

Yes, aesthetically unpleasant. Yes, it sucks to step in a pile. And yes, it can potentially spread a variety of parasites (virtually all of which require you to taste-test the steaming heap within a fairly narrow timeframe - Yum, I just can't figure out how I keep gettin' them roundworms!).

And yes, bears still shit in the woods. Cats still shit in your kids' sandbox. Birds still shit on your car. And the vast majority of feces making it into water comes from agricultural runoff, not because Rex took a dump in the park.

But hey, dogs make the easiest target, so lets go after them.
posted by pla at 3:38 PM on January 4, 2011


No, like calling the waste of a creature likely kept healthier than its owners a "disease vector".

So, you get worms much more frequently than your dog does?
posted by electroboy at 7:52 AM on January 5, 2011


Dog shit smells, and I don't feel like cleaning it off my boots several times a day. Especially when I don't even own a dog. Or should I just track it everywhere because it's not that much of a disease vector?
posted by Eideteker at 8:05 AM on January 5, 2011


Why yes, pet dogs DO make easier targets, in that their shit is (1) a contamination vector that we can easily control, unlike bear shit or bird shit or what-have-you, and (2) a completely unnecessary contamination vector. Most studies show that up to 50% of pet owners don't pick up their dog shit. There's a reason humans don't shit on the curb or toss their chamber pots into the streets, and yet it seems like 50% of dog owners are too lazy or skeeved out to ensure proper hygiene when it comes to their pets.

And yes, it can potentially spread a variety of parasites (virtually all of which require you to taste-test the steaming heap within a fairly narrow timeframe - Yum, I just can't figure out how I keep gettin' them roundworms!).

Again, it's not just an issue of "taste-testing a steaming heap", it's a serious issue of fecal contamination of water run-off - that water your children are playing in and perhaps even drinking. It's also an issue of fecal contamination (and the treatment for fecal contamination) significantly altering natural marine ecologies.
posted by muddgirl at 8:09 AM on January 5, 2011


There's also a hell of a lot more dogs than there are bears.

It's pretty easy to get exposed to fecal matter. Kids play outside, kids put things in their mouths and rub their eyes, pick their noses, get scraped up playing on the sidewalk.
posted by electroboy at 8:43 AM on January 5, 2011


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