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Original Post: | Jan. 15, 2018 6:30 a.m.

Concerns from a Vernon resident about dog owners not cleaning up after their canines while walking the Okanagan Rail Trail have reached an animal genetics company based in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The company, BioPet Laboratories, has developed two programs that involve DNA registration of pets to identify dog owners who ignore picking up their pet’s poop.

Ivy McJunkins, sales and marketing associate for BioPet, said a google alert about dog waste drew her attention to the letter published in the Vernon Morning Star, written by Iain Smith.

In his letter, Smith wrote about a trail being developed between Invermere and Fairmount that will be off-limits to dogs, in part because of concerns about dog poop left behind.

He said the poop problem is already showing signs of spoiling the Okanagan Rail Trail, and similar non-compliance has also spoiled trails in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park.

“We have been at the forefront of the dog waste issue for over 10 years. We understand the issues that dog waste can cause—which is why we created two programs, Travel Dog and PooPrints, that use DNA technology to hold dog owners responsible for picking up after their pets,” said McJunkins.

She said the company has built up a client base across the U.S. and expanded into Canada, working with communities and property owners.

She said PooPrints was developed specifically for apartment and multi-family complex housing facilities, currently serving about 2,600 properties.

“Using DNA technology, every dog on a given property provides a DNA swab sample and is registered forever in our system. If a waste sample is found on the ground, it can be traced back to the dog,” said McJunkins.

“Send it to us and we match it up. Every dog has a unique DNA, so it takes about a two-week process time to analyze the sample.”

The Travel Dog program is based on the same DNA matching principle, but it is done on a voluntary basis to help promote responsible dog ownership working within the established bylaws and standards of a given community.

“We eventually see DNA registration as becoming a normal process for dog owners in every city,” said McJunkins.

“It is a one-time registration process that is cost efficient, reduces the paperwork need and can be helpful in locating the owners of lost dogs.”

If there in interest, she said her company and their Canadian distributor would be interested in talking about DNA-enhanced dog poop patrol.