Poop-to-pooch DNA matching

Ransom Riggs

It's a battle being waged every day on our streets, in our parks and in the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere: how to punish the poop-leavers -- or even catch them? I stumbled across this battle-scarred sidewalk in my neighborhood yesterday -- literally -- and after I stopped laughing, I got to thinking. Was the chalk-wielder overreacting to what is an unfortunately common find on the streets of Venice (California, that is), or is uncurbed doggy doo a bigger problem than our canine-loving metropolis wants to admit?

According to poopreport.com (no, I don't have it bookmarked), the millions of pounds of pet waste left on city sidewalks each day are eventually swept into storm drains, and often discharged into the very same waterways where we get municipal drinking water. Besides creating a public health hazard -- Fifi's precious pooplets contain millions of E. Coli colonies, the bacteria famous for sickening hundreds in the great spinach scare of '06 -- the crappy water can kill fish and create oxygen-sapping blooms of algae where before there were none.

The situation is so dire in Germany that the city of Dresden has considered a program which would create a DNA sample database of all dogs in its cities, then match uncollected poop to pups, the owners of which would pay hefty fines. (I can see it now: Law & Order: Sidewalk Scoopers' Unit.) Now, if they would just use this DNA matching technology to catch some real criminals ...