Let’s make it clear at the onset that I am in full support of responsible pet ‘ownership.’ Also, I’m not a fan of referring to pet responsibility as ‘ownership.’ In my view, a pet is a family member. I don’t go around telling people I own children. That would be wrong – and criminal! But just like my children, I am responsible for my pet. Our dog’s parents are golden doodles, so I’m not sure what that makes her. Coco is a Golden Golden Doodle Doodle, I suppose. This information is not at all relevant to this article, but it makes for good conversation.
Recently, Coco, the kids, and I packed up our belongings and moved to the north end of Lehi. We found a beautiful and pet-friendly, three-bedroom apartment with tons of amenities, including a pet spa for Coco, where she can receive the doggy equivalent of Vichy showers, reflexology massages, and sugar scrubs. After a day at the spa, she comes home smelling of lavender and cucumber. Ten minutes later, she’s back to her usual dog-self, chasing her tennis ball, occasionally pausing to lick herself.
That’s an excellent segue into my point!
At my apartment lease signing (which, by the way, contained more paperwork than the closing documents at my home purchase), I put down a large pet deposit for Coco and signed an agreement, stating that she is current on all of her vaccinations. I provided evidence to verify this, along with a photo of Coco for identification purposes. All of this seemed pretty standard but more expensive than I thought it would be.
At this point the property manager cleared his throat and peered at me over his reading glasses. “Now.” Ahem. “There’s one more detail we need to take care of.” Suddenly I felt as uncomfortable as his voice sounded. The discomfort grew during a longer-than-necessary pause as he shuffled papers, pretending to search for a document already on top of the pile. “Ah!” He feigned a pleasant surprise. “Here it is.” He pushed the form toward me. “We’ll need you to bring Coco in for a DNA swab.” I leafed through the papers in my hand. I didn’t recall any mention of dog pedigree research benefits in the amenities section.
The property manager’s tone became a little apologetic. “Now, this is being done all over the country. It’s to protect Coco, really.”
“Protect Coco? From what?” I asked.
“From false accusations.” He looked down at the document in front of me, pointing at one of the paragraphs. “Right here, as you can read, and as you can imagine, we get a lot of dogs who make the grounds… um, unattractive for the other tenants and our guests.”
“You mean feces on the lawn,” I said.
He looked at me, confused.
“Dog poo.” I clarified.
“Yes!” He got it. “Dog poo. Our groundskeepers pick it up, and we send it in for testing, and if there’s a DNA match to Coco…”
“…then she gets seven to ten at a dog correctional facility,” I interrupted. I smiled at the thought that a good name for a dog prison might be “Bark Bark.”
He smiled back, but uncomfortably so. “It’s not like that. There would be a simple fine. The fine is around $100–the cost of the DNA test. That’s it. Nothing more. We’re not in the business of making money off of dog DNA tests. We just want to make sure our pet owners here are responsible and considerate of others.”
“So, you’re forcing them to be responsible,” I concluded. “Like auto insurance coverage.”
I don’t know that he got the reference.
I rolled my eyes but signed the document, promising to bring Coco in for her DNA test.
I mentioned this to a friend of mine who’s response was, “Good! It will keep people who don’t clean up after their dogs from ruining the grounds for others.”
And while I thought she might have a good point, I must say that the grounds here are littered with dog doo deposits. I’m not kidding! I think I might be one of the few who are picking up after their dog. I’m not doing it because I’m afraid of a fine. And to be brutally honest, I keep forgetting to take Coco in for her DNA test (it’s on my to-doo-doo list).
Coco, a regular dog, has made daily contributions to the apartment complex grounds since we’ve been here. I carry a little plastic bag around with me to collect the day’s contribution. For me, this chore is simply a part of the responsibility of having Coco in our family.
When my kids were babies, we didn’t leave soiled diapers everywhere we visited. As responsible parents, we took care of the good stuff along with the disgusting stuff. It’s just part of being a parent.
But now, at the risk of sounding like a conspiracy nut, I’m wondering if the day could arrive in the future when my children are required to provide DNA samples to “protect them from false accusations.”
Maybe it would be simpler to raise responsible people.