Can the Condo Demand My Dog’s DNA?

dogToday I was on Newstalk1010 with Jim Richards to discuss an annoying enforcement issue faced by many property managers – dog waste left on the common elements. The question posed to me was this: can the condominium demand that an owner provide his dog’s DNA for enforcement purposes?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could identify the dog (and its owner) by examining the waste left on the common elements? That would make enforcement pretty easy, right? Well a new service promises to do just that. PooPrints will create a DNA database for all of the dogs in the condominium using a simple cheek swab. When dog waste is left on the property a sample is sent to the company and they let the manager know which dog left it. If a match is found the costs of testing and clean-up are charged to the owner of the dog. 

So back to the question: can the condominium demand that an owner provide a DNA sample for their dog? Not unless there is a requirement for the owner to do so in the declaration, by-laws or rules and I have yet to see such a requirement. That said, the service could be useful on a voluntary basis if enough of the owners buy into the idea.

A condominium could amend the declaration, by-laws or rules to require pet owners to provide DNA samples, but I’m not sure a court would uphold the requirement as it is not an issue that has been tested by the courts in Ontario. If a condominium were going to try it the declaration would be the best place to add it because a by-law or rule would need to be reasonable, which is questionable in this case, and a declaration does not have the same requirement of reasonableness.

Another interesting issue was raised during the discussion: what about the costs to register the dogs? Who pays for that? The most conservative approach would be to have each dog owner pay the initial registration cost (about $50 from what I understand). The condominium would pay the charges to test any waste left on the property and recover those costs from the offending owner if a match is found. If no match is found the costs would be borne by the condominium.

It is definitely an interesting and novel service. I understand that over 2000 condominiums are already using the service in the U.S. where (unlike here) fines can be levied by condominium boards for rule violations.  It will be interesting to see if it catches on here where there is no ability to fine owners.

Do you have any interesting (and legal) ways of dealing with pet waste in your condominium? Feel free to comment below and share your ideas.