Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation is proceeding with plan to bring the world of CSI to the task of keeping parks “poop-free.”
Parks Director Mark Westermeier said officials met with Poo Prints, a company that does DNA testing for dog waste. The idea is that anyone who signs up for membership at the new dog park in Carmel will have to bring their dog in for a cheek swab so the DNA is in a database. If waste is found, then park staff can send it in to be tested and the owner can be assessed a fine.
DNA testing will cost around $60. The amount of the fine hasn’t been determined.
Westermeier said the point isn’t to fine people to death, but to provide a deterrant.
“Ultimately, we want to stop this problem before it starts,” he said. “What we are really banking on is that we won’t really have to use the fine.”
In the past, some have criticized the cost of the program, but Westermeier said that it doesn’t cost taxpayers or the parks department any money. The costs are passed along to the rule violators. And members agree to these rules when they sign up for a membership, just like veterinary records are required to be up to date.
Looking into this issue, Westermeier said he found that cleaning up a dog’s mess is about more than just annoyance to people who accidentally step in it. It’s an environmental concern. Some people think it’s good for nature – like fertilizer – but it can be dangerous. Just one pile can contain over 3 billion coliform bacteria including E. coli and salmonella. In 1991, the EPA placed pet waste in the same category with oil and toxic waste spills.
“It can be pretty deadly stuff,” Westermeier said. “It’s going to become a bigger and bigger problem with more and more dogs.”
Westermeier said he even wants to try to team with apartment complexes and homeowner’s associations to see if they can help clean up Carmel and reduce the amount of left-behind pet waste.