Some of you are aware that Gaye and I have been working with BioPet Labs in Tennessee. This is a well-established company that specialises in dog DNA. Its brand ‘PooPrints’ is used extensively in the USA and in many other countries around the World. Newer members may not know what I am talking about, so I thought I would share the story here. Feel free to like and/or share. It would be great to get this group fully behind this project, so a bit more information is called for:
Our group’s founder Gaye Fisher was researching dog attacks not long after her own dog Brody was killed by an Akita in a local park when she, rather randomly, came across an article on Dog DNA and eventually, this led her to find BioPet Laboratories in Tennessee. Intrigued, Gaye got in touch with the laboratory and was very quickly contacted back by the CEO, J Retinger.
At about this point, I joined Gaye’s group because I needed to channel my anger about my own dog on dog attack in June 2018 by a loose American bulldog, out on her own, no collar and looking for trouble. My dog was injured, but superficially due to her skin folds and huge ears. (She is a Basset Hound.) I was also bitten in the unprovoked attack.
Gaye introduced me to J Retinger, and he was kind enough to host us on a virtual tour of his BioPet laboratory, via Skype, and explain the whole process of his PooPrints dog DNA system and how it works. It was fascinating and scrupulously clean. I can recommend this as J is happy to give interested people the virtual tour. You also get to meet his team. We can share contact details if some of you would like to do this. Please note, neither Gaye nor I have any financial interest in this company. We do believe it could be an incredibly positive thing to get your own dog registered.
J was very keen to engage with us, and he became quite an early member of Justice for Brody and Companion Dogs. Gaye and I continued to learn and understand how the dog DNA system works and the potential benefits it can bring. This is how it works:
The dog’s owner uses two sterile swabs from a paper sleeve to take a DNA sample from inside each cheek of their own dog. These samples are then air dried and returned to the sleeve and sealed, ready for sending to the lab. The sleeves carry a unique ID number which is used throughout the process. A matching green collar tag with the same ID number is included in the kit, meaning dog and responsible owner are easily identified. The swabs are then sent to the laboratory, or in UK, to the bulk postage office in York for forwarding to the laboratory where the DNA will be extracted and recorded on BioPet Laboratory Worldwide Pet Registry database enabling identification for the lifetime of the dog. Registration is acknowledged with access to the free BioPet Life plan which is an interactive ‘doggy diary’ of your dog’s health, vaccinations etc.
The original application of PooPrints is to identify owners who fail to pick up after their dog. Rented housing is common is US and if you want a dog in your rental property, many landlords make Dog DNA registration a condition of the rental agreement. These properties often have shared outdoor spaces, so fouling can be an issue. In this case, the landlord can take a sample of the offending poo, send it to PooPrints and have the DNA matched to the culprit, and thereby the dog owner.
What usually happens in practice is that just having the PooPrints system in place reduces fouling by up to 70% with no further action needed.
OK, now we have your dog’s DNA recorded on the Worldwide Pet Registry, so you could be identified if you do not pick up after your dog. BUT! It has multiple other uses:
If your dog is stolen, it can be identified as belonging to you. A dog which attacks humans, other dogs, wildlife or livestock can be identified.
Positive impact on the environment and your local area for the benefit of everyone.
Registered PooPrints dogs can sometimes access places where dogs are not allowed, such as camp sites. The green tag indicates a responsible owner and some businesses will accept this as evidence.
This could be a solution to a number of issues concerning our canines.
Back to J Retinger.
About this time last year, (feels like centuries away), J Retinger travelled to the UK to see some new and existing PooPrints clients in Europe and UK. While he was here, we arranged to meet up in London. Gaye travelled from Sutton in Surrey, I travelled from Yorkshire and we met up at The British Library near King’s Cross station. We spent a remarkably interesting morning learning about the PooPrints system, the business, some of the UK clients and J’s lovely family, many of whom work in the business. We were also treated to lunch on the roof terrace. It was a good day.
J returned home, and Gaye & I started contacting people to try and start a dialogue about dog DNA with our local councils and others. We struggled go get any traction, people didn’t understand it and were worried about the cost. I approached Leeds City Council about running a pilot in an area of social housing, reasoning that as tenants already need permission to keep pets, and are inspected annually (in normal times), and therefore, readily monitored, and it could be a huge benefit for shared spaces. Unfortunately, they failed to engage, and now my local councillors, although quite friendly in every other way, will not talk dog poo with me. Doubly annoying as it could generate revenue rather than cost.
Rethink. Do we need the council to engage or can we do it locally? We can but try. In my village, we have an active Tenants and Residents Association. They agreed to put dog poo on the meeting agenda last June. It is a major issue in all our local villages. By coincidence, J Retinger was back in UK, and travelled to my village outside Leeds and spoke at the meeting. An American in my small rural village was something of a novelty, and he was very well received. I have engaged a few local people and we are trying to get a small pilot scheme here to show that it can be done. There is some funding which I am applying for, but I need to show the scale of the problem and then the scale of the improvement, so work to do there. Before and after if you will.
Since that visit, we have jointly worked on a UK version of the US ‘brochure’ with some of J Retinger’s employees, and which is what I posted on FB a few days ago. We have a small amount of these now if anyone would like a few to share. There is also a UK office in York which collect samples and ships in bulk, so, no overseas post if you live in UK. I will post the leaflet again for newer members to read.
In summary, it is clear to me that implementing dog DNA could resolve a number of existing dog issues. If we as a group could get behind this, we could make a difference. Registering your dog is a one-off cost for the lifetime of your dog, giving a direct link to you, the owner. It is simple and effective, non-invasive and cannot be removed like a microchip, and comes with other benefits.
We will be posting some links for a live Webinar with J Retinger taking place next week on 18th June at 8 pm BST
Author: Barbara Rhodes, joint Admin