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Over two dozen complaints of dog waste left around town-owned apartment complexes in Breckenridge, Colorado have prompted the local government to consider a scientific approach to busting the perpetrators and reducing the problem—by collecting DNA from over 50 of the town’s dogs to test against the left-behind droppings.

Breckenridge representatives said the forensic method has had success in reducing the problem for other towns, according to Summit Daily, and that the threat of being caught could serve as a deterrent for careless dog owners. Failing to pick up dog waste in the town is a municipal offense that can carry a fine of up to $200.

One Colorado-based company that offers dog waste DNA testing services told the Summit Daily that once a cheek swab is taken from all the dogs in a controlled community—such as Breckenridge’s town-owned complexes—the community typically sees a 70 to 90 percent decrease in dog waste left behind. If any droppings are found, the company, Pet Scoop, can test them against the dog DNA database to see if there’s a match to a dog in the community.

Germs from dog feces can pose a health hazard to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and could spread parasites like roundworm and hookworm. Officials from the Summit County Public Health Department told the Summit Daily that dog feces have even been linked to disease outbreaks in humans, although those incidents have been rare.

Dog DNA testing has been used previously in cases of dog attacks—in one case, tests revealed that the DNA found on a homeless woman who had been mauled to death did not match the dogs who were euthanized in the aftermath of the attack, Forensic Magazine reported. In another case, a service dog accused of killing another dog was scheduled to be euthanized, until DNA tests revealed he was not a match to the DNA found in the wounds of the victim, according to CNN.

DNA from fecal matter has also been used in criminal cases before. Last year, an accused burglar was arrested after using a toilet in the victim’s house and not flushing, the Associated Press reported. DNA from the toilet was matched with the suspect’s profile in a national database, in what one detective said may have been the first use of DNA evidence from fecal matter in a burglary case.

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