What a Waste! Pet Mess Can Be Controlled in Condo Communities

What a Waste!

 In the 1960s, people would laugh at the notion that someone could make money by  going to people’s houses and asking to mow their lawn. This was something that everyone did  themselves and the thought of paying someone else to do it seemed ridiculous.  

 Fast forward 50 years and that same ridicule is happening to some innovative  thinkers who have started their own pet waste management companies. Seriously,  are people really paying money for others to clean up after their dogs? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”  

 “A service like mine is a nice thing to offer people at a dog-friendly condo,” says Brian Woodard, owner of Kanine Kleenup, which offers regularly scheduled  cleanup services to dog owners in southern Massachusetts and northern Rhode  Island. “Everyone has a busy lifestyle and doesn’t always have time to do it. Especially this time of year when it gets dark  early, it just makes it harder to do it.”  

 For anyone who lives in a pet-friendly condominium and has stepped in the  not-so-friendly droppings of their neighbor’s dog on their grass, driveway or sidewalk, these companies are a god-send.  

 “It is certainly a large and prevalent problem for condo communities,” says Gary Daddario, an attorney with the law firm of Perkins & Anctil in Westford, Massachusetts. “By and large, the non-pet owners at a condo consider it a grave offense when  they are exposed to the pet waste of the other owners.”  

 Not Just the Shoes

 There is nothing more frustrating to responsible pet owners who faithfully pick  up after their dogs, than to walk out their front door and see a pile.  

 Sure, everyone knows what stepping in dog waste can do to a pair of shoes, but  the damage done by uncurbed pets is much more serious than people think.  Besides the general grossness, dog poo can cause the death of plants and trees,  erosion, and the staining of brick. It can also create safety and health  hazards.  

 According to Anthony Gillis, president of Zerowaste.usa.com, which offers green  pet waste solutions, one average sized pile of doggie doo can produce three  billion bacteria. Plus, roundworm eggs can survive in the soil of your property  for years and disease can pass from these hazardous piles to both humans and  other pets.  

 “Dog waste is a major pollutant and contaminant of the water supply. It is a  serious health issue,” Gillis says. “It is estimated that one-third of all water contamination is a result of dog  waste runoff entering streams and leaching into underground well water. The  average dog can produce 274 pounds of waste each year.”  

 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pet  waste can contribute to diseases that animals pass to humans, called zoonoses.  When infected waste is deposited on the ground, the eggs of certain roundworms  and other parasites can linger in the soil for years. Anyone, especially dogs,  coming into contact with that soil — whether through gardening, playing sports, walking barefoot or any other means— runs the risk of coming into contact with the eggs.  

 For the Dogs

 With more and more communities becoming pet-friendly and initiating services to  attract those with dogs, dealing with pet waste is gaining ground as an issue.  

 “I don’t think either side of the debate at the condos has concerned themselves much  with the city/town regulations. Reason being, most condos have fairly specific  requirements for the pets and it always includes picking up any waste,” Daddario says. “Sometimes, you might see a condo communicate a violation to an owner and they  will add in the fact that the misconduct is also a violation of municipal  regulations. However, for the most part, that doesn’t alter the interaction or resolution between the condo owner and the condo  board.”  

 Most communities put up signs around the building and around the grounds as  reminders, and regulations about cleanup are usually in the house rules, but  that’s not always enough.  

 “Even though the law requires dog owners to clean up after their pets, not all  dog owners are responsible or community-minded,” Gillis says. “By providing a highly visible system, communities can create a prominent  awareness of each dog owner’s responsibility and produce greater compliance.”  

 Some condo communities provide baggies and sanitary containers; others offer  designated dog-walking areas.  

 “Dog owners are more likely to clean up after their pets if they are provided  with dog waste bags and waste containers,” Gillis says. “Owners will feel more responsible if a system is provided and they realize  someone is monitoring. It becomes socially unacceptable for a pet owner to  allow their dog to soil the grounds when a convenient pick-up bag and trash  container is provided.”  

 According to the experts, the best dog waste stations and dispensers are made of  aluminum, which last longer and withstand daily use better than poly resin or  plastic units.  

 It’s also far less expensive to provide waste bags and waste containers than it is  to clean up soiled areas, handle resident complaints regarding soiled grounds  and deal with local, state or federal violations.  

 Service with a Smile

 Woodard’s business isn’t the only company in New England that works with community associations to  handle dog waste, and new entries into the market seem to come every few  months.  

 “Dogs poop and people don’t want to pick it up so I’m a very convenient service for a lot of people,” he says. “It helps the cleanliness of the place, helps the health of the dogs and people  and can attract people to the condo itself.”  

 Annette Kuhn, owner of Poop, Scoop & Away, LLC in Bedford, New Hampshire, has been working with community associations for years.  

 “Even though some residents are responsible for their dogs every time, other  residents may look upon those people with animosity or resentment just because  they have a dog, and question whether or not they pick up after them every time  since they’ve either stepped in ‘a gift’ or just have seen it on the property not being taken care of,” Kuhn says. “To eliminate the frustration that can overcome a multi-dwelling community when  it comes to picking up after residents’ dogs, we are glad to assist in alleviating these issues and help with creating  harmony between the dog and non-dog owners.”  

 The cost for such a service isn’t as high as you might think.  

 “I’ve spoken to a couple of condos about them adding a couple dollars more in rent  each month, and that’s more than enough for someone to come through and do it,” Woodard says. “It’s something that really can add a lot of value to a community.”  

 CSI for Dogs

 It may be hard to believe, but one way condos are fighting back against  residents who don’t curb their dog is through the use of DNA testing. If you are a property owner  or property manager, there is no question that you have been frustrated and  disgusted by piles of doggie doo left on your property and you have most likely  been equally frustrated that you have had no way to prove who the irresponsible  resident is.  

 A news item in January reported that officials at a downtown Orlando condo  complex are going to start testing feces to find out who is not cleaning up  after their dog. The Vue hired PooPrints, a Tennessee-based company that will  take DNA samples from the HOA’s dogs, which are put into a global registry, and then will be used to track  down owners when they don't pick up after their pets. The condo said it expects  to have all the DNA samples collected during the month. Violators could face a  $100 fine. A Plano, Texas apartment complex also hired the same company in  January to test its resident pooches. They plan to fine violators $250 for  non-compliance.  

 Debbie Logan, manager of Twin Ponds at Nashua in Nashua, New Hampshire, has been  managing that property for 14 years and takes pride in providing a safe and  healthy environment for the residents and their pets.  

 “Twin Ponds is a beautiful property consisting of 375 apartments and almost 400  dogs,” she says. “At first, dog waste was an enormous problem. Piles upon piles. I couldn’t believe how bad it was in certain areas. You could certainly tell it was a few  select individuals and not everyone being irresponsible.”  

 Knowing that there must be a solution, Logan also discovered PooPrints and  reached out to them for their service.  

 “I initially thought it was crazy. I thought, ‘Okay, property managers wear many hats, but what is this? Doggie CSI?’” she says. “A simple cheek swab of all our dogs now creates a DNA database in the World Pet  Registry. Samples left on the property are sent to the lab and provide a match  using that DNA.”  

 The process is simple. One swab is “swooshed” around in the left cheek for 10 seconds, then one in the right cheek, and they  are mailed into the lab and registered by use of a barcode. All owners—new and old—are required to register their dogs.  

 “When they come to sign their lease, we are swabbing the dogs. If the dogs are  not with them, they do not move in,” Logan says. “If you already live here and want a new puppy, we’re all for it. You simply call within 48 hours and make the appointment to swab  the dog. We only charge a one-time fee of $50 per dog and have no pet security  or additional monthly pet fees.”  

 Now, when residents find a pile on the property they notify management so they  can go gather a sample to send into the lab.  

 “We aren’t spending time scaling the property to look for the problem anymore, mostly  because it does not exist anymore,” Logan says. “Our residents love the program and they are glad to help us. The responsible dog  owners want to catch the irresponsible dog owners just about as much as we do.”  

 Everyone benefits from the program. Residents enjoy healthy clean grounds,  property managers are not wasting time trying to figure out who is causing the  problem, maintenance men are not being asked to clean up after someone else and  landscapers can landscape without stepping in a mess.  

 Money Matters

 For any rule to work there have to be consequences or else violators won’t take it seriously. Logan says that her community imposes fines on anyone who  goes against the rule.  

 “No exceptions, no excuses,” Logan says. “First and second offense are $100, third offense is $200, fourth offense is  $300, etc. If they do not pay their fines, we would move forward with eviction,  although we have never had to do this. We’ve collected all our fines.”  

 Logan charges residents $30 for the kit and another $50 for registering, but  properties can choose to charge what they see is reasonable.  

 “The property does not pay a dime for the program. In fact, the property even  makes money, which we put towards the cost of our dog bags that we supply at  the dog stations scattered around the property,” she says. “Imagine that the property owner is not paying a thing to keep the property  clean. I love that the program is affordable to the pet owner too. It is a misconception that anything having to do with DNA is costly. There  literally is not another program out there that does what this one does for  properties and the residents. It’s a total win-win.”      

 Keith Loria is a freelance writer and a frequent contributor to New England  Condominium.  

 

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Comments

  • Dna what a great idea no cost to the property and at the same time keeps the grounds free of dog waste.besides who wants to be fined for not picking up after their dog.great solution!