A TikToker shared that her new apartment is using a service that helps complex managers determine which residents aren’t picking up after their pets—apparently by doing DNA tests on dogs, matching dog feces left behind with the dogs that produced them, and then sending dog feces to those dogs’ owners.
The video was published to TikTok on Thursday by creator @xmaddieadele, and it’s received more than 158,000 views since going up on the platform.
“I just got the lease for a new apartment,” she began, “and I was reading the part about pets. And the leasing person said that I need to bring my dog by the office whenever we move in so that she can get registered for a PooPrints account.”
tell me your poo print stories now 💩♬ original sound – maddie
“And clearly I Googled that because ‘What is that? And you gave me no context,'” she recalled thinking. “What is a PooPrints account?”
She went on, “They’re going to swab the inside of my dog’s mouth, and if she takes a shit, and I don’t pick it up, I guess they’re going to pick it up for me and send it through the mail and then identify us… and I don’t really know what happens after that.”
According to the PooPrints website (which uses the poop emoji as its tab icon), the company—affiliated with Knoxville, Tenn.-based BioPet Laboratories—professes to be “the only DNA solution for pet waste management,” claiming that 7,000 entities (including apartment complexes and HOAs) subscribe to the service.
The company’s mission statement reads: “Our goal is to increase responsible pet ownership through education, expand pet access, and decrease the environmental impact of dog waste.” The company also claims to use a “company-owned and operated laboratory” that “adheres to FBI protocol.”
The creator had a number of questions about PooPrints and the journey she was about to embark on with them. “I don’t know if they’re gonna fine us,” she observed. “I don’t know if they’re gonna get a disease because they’re sending dog shit through the mail. I don’t know if they’re gonna come get my dog. … Can somebody tell me what’s going to happen?”
She added, “I get that not picking up your dog’s shit is unsanitary, but, like, it can’t be sanitary to send it through the mail. And whose job is this? Who’s picking it up and sending it in and testing it?”
“I’m gonna pick up her poop,” she reassured whoever might be watching. “I just kind of want to know what’s gonna happen.”
Some commenters opined that this was just an elaborate scare tactic.
“My vet told me this is fake & they can’t actually DNA test poop,” one commenter claimed, “So they do this to scare you.”
“I lived in an apartment that did this,” another noted, “and never heard of anyone actually getting fined. I think it was a scare tactic more that anything else.”
The creator, who did some sleuthing since posting the video, responded: “I’m hearing anything from scare tactics to $500 fines and evictions.”
One person suggested some subterfuge, saying, “Borrow someone else’s dog to bring to the office so they don’t swab your dogs.”
But at least a few commenters were on board with PooPrints. “I wish my complex would do this,” one said. “So many nasty people leaving their dog shit for me to have to pick up so my dog or I don’t step in it.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to the creator for comment.
Update, Feb. 16 6:25 a.m. CT: A spokesperson for Poo Prints returned our request for comment, noting, regarding the question about whether a dog’s stool can be tested for DNA:
“The application of genetic analysis in the field of vet forensics is not a new concept. In fact, Forensic biology for non-human specimens has become an important tool both in human related crimes and animal crimes. As you may imagine, an array of sample types are tested and we at BioPet dedicated our efforts to validate and optimize a procedure to isolate and type host DNA from fecal samples and Canine in particular. In 2013, BioPet Labs presented Canine Feces Genotyping as a form of forensic evidence at the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association annual conference. Stool testing is also performed on humans for colorectal cancer research, and you can find information on the internet regarding stool samples containing cells from the digestive tract.”
The spokesperson added, “It may be worth distinguishing that the DNA is not actually in the dog waste. Clients sent a small sample of the waste to us, and we test the epithelial cells that are collected on the exterior of the waste sample as it passes through the dog’s intestines. These skin cells are then used to match back to the skin cells from the pet’s cheek swab registration.
As for questions about sending dog feces through the mail, the spokesperson noted:
“As far as the sanitation around mailing dog waste, it’s very similar to any other biological materials that are sent through the mail (blood, human waste, hair/nails, etc). We adhere to the requirements of USPS in packaging non-hazardous biological materials via a “triple-package” methodology. Our proprietary DNA collection kits have 3 layers – the collection bottle (folks are not sending in an entire pile of waste. We ask for a sample of the pile to be placed in our waste collection bottle that contains a stabilizing solution to ensure the integrity of the waste), the bottle is then placed inside a plastic, sealed bag. That bag is then placed inside a corrugated shipping box, so there are 3 layers between the waste sample and any human handling the package.”