Condo Owners Not Giving Up Fight Against Providing Dog DNA

Back in March, we brought you the story of a condo complex in Northern Virginia where dog-owning residents had been given 30 days to provide DNA samples of their canine companions. But the condo owners tell Consumerist that in spite of the condo association’s best attempts to ignore them, they aren’t about to take the DNA requirement lying down.

After the story was posted on Consumerist, the attention created a buzz among the condo residents, many of whom wanted to discuss the topic with management.

However, resident and Consumerist reader Dave tells us, “We thought getting national attention would make the board more willing to hear the arguments… Turns out it just made them go in to hiding and ignore everyone further.”

Dave says that when a rule change is about to come before the association, the board usually posts fliers to alert residents so their voices can be heard before a vote. But in the days leading up to the original vote on the dog DNA issue:

There was nothing about this DNA sampling of dogs anywhere, and was passed during a meeting with very few people in attendance.

Once everybody got wind of it, we started to take action. Some other concerned dog owners posted their own fliers to get the word out there. The fliers were ripped down by the office manager saying we can’t post those on the bulletin boards, and we can not meet about that. If we want to discuss it, we can do so at the board meeting. Funny…. Now we can’t talk to our neighbors?

Since they were not allowed to post bulletins in protest or to discuss the topic outside of a board meeting, the residents all made plans to attend the next get-together of the board, which also happened to be the last board meeting before the deadline to provide their dogs’ DNA samples.

That’s when the board decided to cancel the meeting, says Dave.

After residents expressed their displeasure at this cancellation, the board agreed to extend the DNA deadline until after the next board meeting. Hopefully, this will give Dave and his fellow dog-owners the chance to voice concerns like:

What happens if a vindictive neighbor pulls your dog’s poo from the trash and puts it out to get you in trouble? What happens if someone else leaves their dog’s mess out there and my dog marks his territory on the offending poop? Now my dog could be the one flagged and I get fined.

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  1. clippy2.0 says:

    What about the very very obvious fact that the residents are being asked to pay for someone to collect poo, and then bring it to a lab to be processed? The whole thing is insane, busybodies can all rot in hell

    • Hobz says:

      I think it would be cheaper to just hire someone to clean it up?

      • clippy2.0 says:

        shhh don’t tell them that. They might bother using their brains!

      • longfeltwant says:

        I’ve always wondered about that, and my conclusion is that some people are simply power happy douchebags. Sure, we could implement a huge system of high-tech DNA collection and sampling at an enormous cost in order to give fuzzy feelings to people who take a moralistic stance against dog poop, or we could just clean up the dog poop. I feel the same way about litter in streets: sure, it should be against the rules to litter; sure, if we catch you in the act of littering we’re going to give you a small fine; but none of that solves the problem. To solve the problem, all you have to do is appoint (and pay) a person to clean up the litter. Yes, I know that deprives busybodies of their sense of superiority, but it does have the benefit of actually solving the problem.

      • Conformist138 says:

        With any issue, be it about health care or tax increases or criminal laws, you will always find the people who will make themselves and everyone around them miserable in an attempt to make sure no one “gets away with something” or “gets something for free”. It’s the same attitude that makes people argue for drug testing welfare recipients- it doesn’t matter that the cost does more harm than good, all they care about is the notion that justice is not served unless every single wrongdoer pays for their transgressions.

    • Anna Kossua says:

      Maybe I’m too cynical, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the HOA would lie about having the collected poo tested, so they can keep more of those sweet, overpriced HOA fees they get.

      –First, they collect DNA from each dog
      –Second, they find poo in someone’s yard
      –They may suspect a certain guy as the guilty party; maybe there was a witness
      –So they bluff: “We tested the poop’s DNA and it’s your dog’s!” whether they actually tested the poo or not, just to get the guy to confess.

    • spamtasticus says:

      I am the Prez of my condo association and this is the most moronic thing I have ever heard of. Keep it simple. If you see a resident letting their pooch crap all over the place then fine them but CSI Golden Girls is not the answer.

  2. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    What the hell. You all should go into town and pick up some dog turds and send them in. Or poop in a bag and submit it.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      hahah good point. how can they verified the DNA came from the dog.

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        I like this idea…there is no chain of custody though?

        • kobresia says:

          From the original post on this story, I believe you’re right– the condo association wanted residents to take their dogs to a fecal sample collector to ensure chain of custody and that no shenanigans were occurring.

      • Misha says:

        The original Consumerist story said that the dog had to give the sample in front of an association representative.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          my dog is poop shy. that condo association rep would be waiting a long time

          • Coyote says:

            LOL… the registration samples are from cheek swabs.

            • The Porkchop Express says:

              so rub some other dog crap on your dog’s butt? Gross? yeah, but your dog should be ok, he would have rolled in it anyway.

              • longfeltwant says:

                “cheek swabs”

                “dog’s butt”

                Error locale mismatch.

              • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

                hah! that’d be great. my pureblooded [rescued] blue heeler coming back as half chihuahua, half beagle. – i have plenty of samples of both of those because my neighbor’s dogs poop in my yard

          • kobresia says:

            I think they anal probe the dogs to collect a sample. Unless the pooch has just taken a dump, there’s usually going to be a little bit waiting near the exit.

      • makoto says:

        They verify because there needs to be an office manager present during the DNA sampling. Read the original article. It’s like a drug test. They want to be present. Although, I’d at least make them collect it.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Oh that is great! You can get the DNA of a stranger’s dog from just about anywhere. How would they know?

    • Cooneymike says:

      I really like the ‘just poop in a bag’ and send that to them. Of course, that implies I don’t make a practice of leaving my own droppings in the common areas.

  3. giax says:

    An idea for the areas where they have used baby diapers lying around on the ground: make the parents give their DNA and that of their children, so any diaper offender can be caught and punished with the same logic as used in that condo that wants the dogs’ DNA for the same reason.
    At least dog poo decomposes and gets nutrients for the plants if left undisturbed somewhere (not saying it should be left – if it’s anywhere where other people walk, it should be cleaned away by the owner), unlike the plastic baby diapers. What I’ve never understood is why I see used diapers e.g. in parking lots, on walking paths etc.

    • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

      Having seen this a few times I sympathize. Dog poop is gross but baby diaper… really?!?!

  4. Beave says:

    People who don’t take care of dogs are infuriating. They think it’s no big deal their dogs crap all over the common areas of our neighborhood, seemingly oblivious that the rest of us don’t want to see or deal with it. If you have young kids it’s particularly frustrating when you can’t take a walk down to check the mail with worrying about a 2yr old stepping in poop. (The area around the mailboxes is always particularly bad.) I have no issue with responsible dog owners, and this seems over-the-top, but I at least give this condo board credit for trying to do something.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      I despise untrained dogs as much as the next guy (probably more). However, I would not tolerate this kind of Big Brother nonsense from an HOA and I would stand with the dog owners objecting to it.

    • clippy2.0 says:

      This is a retarded, sheltered, and very city person type of problem. That 2 year old you’re worried about? It could play with anything; cigarettes, glass, animal feces (animals do exist in the wild), poison ivy, decomposing food. I mean, I get that folks want a nice public grassy area to play in, but guess what. It’s not private grass for a reason! Anyone or thing, from geese to homeless people, can come across that grass too.

      Obviously if the dog owners at this condo complex are trying to get involved in this process, they’re not the type to just let their dog crap and then never clear it up. This situation is just asinine; if the parks are too dirty, spend money on cleaning it up, not chasing after supposed “problems”

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        I gotta agree. There are some important life lessons a child should be learning from this situation…

        - There might be poop in that grass.

        - Watch where you step.

        - Don’t play with poop.

        Once the parent teaches that, there shouldn’t be any issues.

        • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

          And if you feel the need to eat snow, make sure it’s white and undisturbed. Don’t eat yellow snow!

        • Conformist138 says:

          AND, here’s a baggy, let’s be good citizens and pick up that poop! We could either start some massive campaign to terrorize the neighbors, or just learn that sometimes life means dealing with the rudeness of others without making a huge civil case out of it. You can’t make everyone polite and obedient, and you know other people hate seeing it, too, so why not take some productive action that takes far less time and money and makes you look like a good person and not a vindictive jerk.

          Ironic that we will pat ourselves on the back for picking up litter on the beach for Earth Day, but the moment someone suggests taking time to make our own neighborhoods nicer, people fly into a frothing rage about how “It’s not MY mess! How dare I, in my splendor, be expected to contribute one bit more than I am minimally required while someone else isn’t!” We aren’t children, and we should have long ago learned that life doesn’t work that way, ever. We’d drive ourselves to madness if we tried making sure everyone around us lived up to our expectations of them.

    • Hoss says:

      I got a dog and like you I can’t fathom why anyone would not pick up the poop immediately. But can you imagine possibly losing your home because of a lab mistake and your perfect little fluffy one was mistaken for the serial pooper!

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      It’s dog poop. They should hire someone to pick it up if it’s a problem. They could increase dues to cover a weekly clean up. DNA sampling is a ridiculous and idiotic solution. It’s more expensive for sure than just hiring someone to scoop it.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        A simple monthly pet fee tacked on to the dues should take care of it. My apartments have that fee and it pays for poop stations and clean up. Luckily, most people around here clean up.

        I have also wondered why people allow themselves to get so “infuriated” over dog poo. There are much more pressing issues in the world to be upset about. A Bikram yoga class or a good shagging might help with the extreme poop anger.

  5. az123 says:

    I think the residents should plan on booting the condo board out of office, in fact someone should get the bylaws and see what they can do to start the movement prior to the next election cycle

  6. tinmanx says:

    I don’t understand this, the board is just going make everyone in the condo hate them. Is that how they really want to live? With all their neighbors hating their guts?

    • bdgbill says:

      Yes. Only the very worst of people are attracted to holding office in an HOA. For these people, being hated is far preferable to being ignored.

    • makoto says:

      Why do I feel like all the board members only own cats?

  7. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    It’s things like this that will lead to a future like Gattica.

  8. Hi_Hello says:

    if I was the board, I would work out a compromise.
    throw the dna out of the window as long as no more poop is around. let the resident come up with a better plan. If poop is found, dna takes affect.

  9. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    It’s all wrong, this should be a reward system, rather than a punishment system. E.g. For every pile of poop that you pick up and send to the HOA board, you get a $1 discount on your next months condo fees.

    Everyone would be happy! Residents get to mail poop to the HOA, the HOA gets all the poop examination they dream of as well as cleaner driveways and lawns. Win-win.

    • misterfweem says:

      I’d send in my dog poop with this picture. Every time. http://lolzombie.com/5735/glad-home-pooped-hallway/

    • homehome says:

      There should be a reward system for doing something you’re supposed to do anyway? I understand why the residents are mad, but the residents really brought it on themselves. If ppl don’t like me, so be it, at least I won’t be stepping in crap anymore. I live in lower DC and the places around NoVa does have a problem with dogs crappin everywhere. If you ask ppl, then they don’t do it, then you make a rule, now everybody wants to pay attention.

      • Conformist138 says:

        Ok, so what if they found human poop? Would it be acceptable for an HOA to demand human DNA for their own use in that case? If a complex is convinced someone is selling drugs, can TSA-style pat downs to get home be acceptable? What limits should an HOA have?

        My landlords own the house I live in, but they can’t even unlock the door without notice. They have no rights whatsoever to demand I provide blood, urine, or fecal samples regardless of whether they came from me or my dog. Not even the police could do that without a warrant.

  10. Coyote says:

    Ostensibly this is for poo-tracking, but I get the feeling it’s a CYA on the part of the condos. They are trying to leverage BSL. Those doggie DNA tests are remarkably inaccurate when it comes to breed… just about any dog can be “tested and shown to be shown to be XX% percent pitbull” or some other BSL-targeted breed.

    • LanMan04 says:

      Those doggie DNA tests are remarkably inaccurate when it comes to breed
      ————
      Of course they are, but no one is trying to match an unknown sample to a breed. They’re matching samples to a list of known samples that were sent in. That’s super-easy.

  11. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Couldn’t they just install security cameras facing the most common poop areas?

    Then they see who it is, and send them a fine. It will pay for the cameras in no time, with the added plus that they are a security feature.

    • longfeltwant says:

      Sure. They could also pay someone to pick up the dookie. That would certainly be less expensive than a bunch of cameras or cutting-edge DNA technology. But on the other hand, that would actually SOLVE the problem, whereas clearly these condo managers are simply trying to stroke their sense of self-superiority.

      • mommiest says:

        Paying someone to pick up the dookie is expensive, especially here in NoVa. I would hate to charge even the dog owners who have been cleaning up, but you would have to pass on the costs somehow.

        A townhouse neighborhood where I used to live is dealing with this, but leaning toward the camera because folks from a nearby apartment complex have been “walking” their dogs on their common area and not cleaning up. DNA testing would not work.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        Not to mention that they are breeding anger and hostility among the residents. Really, how asinine can you get? Charge a monthly pet fee and pay for the poop to be picked up. End of story. No hostility, no accusations. Just a monthly fee per pet. Cats get it too, b/c they like to crap in the flower beds.

        Who cares who the culprit is? Life it too short to spend time being a shit detective.

  12. Sudonum says:

    Not sure about Virgina, but most states have laws that require posting of notices of HOA meetings and any business conducted at meeting where proper notification was not given is invalid.

  13. GarretN says:

    This should have been an 80s movie starring Tom Hanks. I would’ve watched that.

  14. dolemite says:

    Oh ho ho…condos. I get enough drama and aggravation at work and the rest of my life without worrying about a nazi condo or HOA telling me how many flowers I can plant, and what I need to do with my dogs.

  15. Traveller says:

    Just curious, has the incidence of poo left behind in the common areas etc. improved?

  16. Cat says:

    Owners should submit DNA samples to all board members.

    On their front steps.

  17. AllanG54 says:

    All I can say is…..”only in America.”

  18. fsnuffer says:

    Bring in dogs from outside the condo and let them chase around trying to match the samples. I can hear ole Jonny Cochran now from heaven – “If you can’t match the shit, you must acquit”

  19. Sarek says:

    “Once everybody got wind of it…”

  20. RandomHookup says:

    You have to be very vindictive to dig dog poop out of the trash can…

  21. anime_runs_my_life says:

    The office manager can say all they want about residents not meeting about things that affect them, but is the office management then going to patrol everyone who has more than a few people over for to their condo for an innocent get together, or insisting that they listen into conversations that residents have with other fellow residents when they’re out walking their dogs to make sure they don’t talk about taboo things? They’re taking this way too far.

    I won’t be surprised if the next meeting before the extended deadline is “cancelled” as well.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      They can’t keep people from talking about things. It’s called freedom of speech. The residents can talk about whatever the hell they want whenever they want. There isn’t a damned thing anyone can do about it.

  22. dandadan says:

    Condo associations are peopled by crazy, bored individuals without a life. I have experienced such stupid rules, fines and bull crap. Sure people should clean up after pets, but many do not. Let’s make everyone suffer for the actions of a few is their motto.

    I’ll bet this stupid rule costs the association more than hiring someone to do a poo-patrol every other day for about an hour? Just hire someone to clean it up, chock it up to a cost of doing business, make a rule that you will be fined if your dog crap isn’t picked up and be done with it.

    DNA testing is expensive and as you can see pisses everyone off. My god what idiots will think up, especially those not in touch with reality as you can see.

  23. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    As always…just more evidence why HOAs should be illegal.

    I can’t imagine anyone who could be pro-HOA who isn’t a raging douchebag.

    • bdgbill says:

      The idea of HOA’s is fine. People want to protect their property values and not end up living in a hellhole because some hillbillies moved next door. The problem is that normal people do not want (or do not have the time) to serve on these boards. These positions are almost always filled by maladjusted elderly people desperate to exercise any level of authority. If there are insufficient violations to give the busy-bodies something to do, the rules will be gradually made more strict and more petty.

      • Rachacha says:

        Or, you get “do good” neighbors who like to tattle on all of their neighbors. I own a home in an HOA, and there is one couple that complains about everything in the community. They filed several complaints against me because I stored some trash behind my house 1 day earlier than it should have been outside (I was traveling and asked a neighbor to take it to the curb on trash day), and they complained because another neighbor repainted their front door a slight shade lighter than the original door color.

        The HOA Board, at the urging of this one homeowner was all set to start fining the owner every day until he filed an architectural change document (ACD) (which the committee said they would approve without question), until I drove around the neighborhood, identifying several violations and other changes (about 90% of the homes) that I was going to demand a copy of the ACD for each change. Several of the violations and changes were on HOA board member properties, as well as the “do good” neighbor’s property. Surprisingly, the board decided to nicely ask the homeowner who repainted his door to complete the ACD and submit it so the change could be formally approved.

        Sometimes the best way to fight a fire is with fire…know the rules in your HOA, and hold the board to following those rules to the letter. If they don’t, call them out on it.

  24. Plasmafox says:

    I think they should be worried not because of poo, but because it’s just as easy to send the samples off to a lab to have the breed composition tested. “Oh, it says here in this genetics report that your mutt is 10% pit bull, so we called animal control and had him put down. We’re sending you the bill, oh and a fine for violating the breed restriction ordinance”

    • Kuri says:

      Or they don’t know which dog but do know the breed, so they just ban that breed from the complex completely.

  25. Straspey says:

    Good News !!

    Apparently the management of the condo complex agreed to meet with a representative group of tenants and – after a friendly sit-down – they were finally able to reach a mutual agreement which will work for all concerned…

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_okSIvb7zcQE/TOao-9c7gjI/AAAAAAAAHyM/BVbmXtvzMo8/s400/Dog%2Bscooping%2Bpoop.jpg

  26. momtimestwo says:

    I think this is a great idea. I’m tired of not being able to use a common area because dog owners doesn’t pick up their dog’s crap. Just last week, the county had a rabies clinic at our local elementary school. As I stood in line with dozens of other people, I saw half the dog’s crap in the grass next to sidewalk, and the owners did nothing. They just left their dog crap for all the kids to walk in the next day. One person ruins it for everyone. You should be bitching at the dog owners not the HOA.

  27. dale says:

    Blame these guys: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/02/magazine/02freak.html

    I remember reading about this years ago. I didn’t think anyone would actually waste the resources needed to get a program up and running.

  28. GoldVRod says:

    I would bet that this is being pushed by a single person within the board. The others are just going along like sheep.

    What the residents need to do is simple: identify the puppet master and corner him late one night and beat the ever-living crap out of him. Then eat him. After a few hours they shit him out and then make the other board members said excrement. Finally, tie the remaining members to an old sail boat and fire a single flaming arrow into the boat.

    This usually does the trick.

  29. daynight says:

    You can always go outside your area and find some poo to import. Let them analyze it. They’ll find nothing and wind up having to do all the work of handing the poo for a bunch of sample that lead to nothing. I am sure they will be pleased with that prospect. Does this count as pass-ive resistance?

    • Conformist138 says:

      or just threaten to. I mean, if there are a dozen dog owners all pledging at the next meeting to submit fraudulent poop in protest, it will send the message clearly that compelling blood, urine, or fecal samples from anyone (be it dog, cat, human, or other) is unacceptable and oversteps the legal bounds of an HOA. The dog belongs to the person and I would assume that puts the dog under the blanket of the owner’s right to privacy. Unless HOAs got the right to go over the heads of law enforcement and conduct their own private crusades, I think the residents would win out in the end.

  30. dush says:

    Start the campaign to replace everyone on the board!

  31. megafly says:

    Was there actually a problem with dog leaving at this development? Or are they just being pricks for no reason?

  32. Robertinark says:

    I can feel for the HOA frustration with some dog owners. I walk my dog in the neighborhood and a local park. There is so much dog poo not picked up, it makes me mad. And the turds are ALWAYS FROM LARGE DOGS! Large dog owners pick it up or give the dog up!

  33. Rachacha says:

    Dave needs to look at his governing documents for the HOA. They should include requirements for adequate public notice, and if asked the board should have no problem demonstrating that they provided public notice…unless they did not provide such notice in which case the new rule would be null and void.

    Dave should also check out the VA Condominium Act http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+TOC55000000004000020000000 which would likely apply and provide laws that the HOA and the board must follow. The Condo Act provides rules on how members of the HOA are free to distribute information to other members and how to pass new rules. (IANAL)

    We did something similar with the state when they wanted to obtain a piece of HOA common property and tear down a bunch of trees that were helping to reduce noise pollution from the highway. The state wanted the land to build a new highway interchange. The state representatives talked to the HOA Board (I was president at the time) and we looked at their feasibility studies and documents and records of public notice. It turned out that they were using old land surveys that did not even show our 10 year old neighborhood existed, and as a result, did not properly notify residents of a public hearing to discuss the project. They had to modify the entire project to avoid having to delay the project by years to go through the entire notification process again.

  34. RebeccaC says:

    Gawd, yet another HOA insanity. When we buy a house, we will NOT be buying in an area with an HOA. Here in Florida they can take your house if you don’t pay dues. Our HOA’s resident busybody president wanders around the neighborhood with a ruler to measure people’s grass, and charges a $30 fine for every day that your Christmas decorations are up past the 1st of the year (even though a lot of the neighborhood leaves town around Christmas).

    I’m all for picking up dog poop (I have a petsitting/dogwalking business, I’m pretty familiar with the concept ;) ) and taking down your Christmas lights shortly after the holidays, but some of these HOAs are completely nuts.

    • Kuri says:

      As I like to say, if they can take your home for not paying HOA dues, then you may as well be renting since you don’t own your home.

  35. Mike says:

    If enough people in the association are upset, have them all go to the next meeting and put forward a motion to stop the DNA testing. If they balk, recall the officers and put your own in.

  36. Orion says:

    This is just a scam. It’s another way for the management company to take money out of the homeowner’s pockets and put it in their own. Probably the board members are getting a kickback too.

    If dog poop is really a problem, what’s wrong with paying someone $100/month to scoop the poop? It’ll probably take half an hour to clean up the whole community. If the maintenance crew doesn’t want to do it, there are plenty of unemployed teenagers who could use the pocket cash. But a simple solution like that wouldn’t line the pockets of the crooked HOA guys who run this community, would it?

  37. fibrowitch says:

    As a dog owner I always pick up my dog’s poo. Not sure if Dave or one of his other fellow dog owners were the ones to fear a neighbor would pull their dog’s poo out of the trash to frame them. What kind of a person are you that you would even think that about another person?

    Just to cover all the bases. When I pick up my dog’s poo I wrap it in a doggy poo bag and put it in my trash. From there it goes into my buildings trash compactor. So if anyone one wants to go to all that trouble to frame my dog, well they have way to much time on their hands

  38. ltsupervisor says:

    Oh, grow up people! As a city official, I can tell you that there are a sad number of irresponsible people who will leave their dog’s c**p lying around for everyone else to deal with. It’s both a public health issue and a water quality issue. It’s unfortunate that a minority have to create more work for responsible people, but I’m completely behind the condo association on this one. I’m someone who gets the irate phone calls about dog dirt pollution. Save your outrage for the pigs who created the problem.