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August 24, 2019

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Apartment Living:

Poo patrol: Do your duty — or else

Vantage Lofts

L.E. Baskow

Vantage Lofts in Henderson has a strict policy on cleaning up after a tenant’s pet — each animal is even DNA-tested to identify feces left behind.

Click to enlarge photo

A sign at Vantage Lofts in Henderson encourages tenants to clean up after their pets.

As the business manager at Vantage Lofts, an upscale apartment complex in Henderson, Jeffery Arterberry signs renters, manages finances and oversees maintenance.

He also puts residents with pets on alert: The posh, pricey property has poop police.

Vantage is one of a few Las Vegas Valley residential properties using PooPrints, a CSI-style DNA-matching service that lets community managers catch culprits who don’t pick up after their dogs.

First-time offenders at Vantage get a verbal warning, and then $150 fines for each subsequent violation. If the “poopetrators” — as a PooPrints salesman calls them — keep ignoring their dogs’ droppings, the pups can be evicted.

Renters chuckle when they hear about Vantage’s pet-poop enforcement system, Arterberry said. But since they live at one of the most expensive rental properties in the valley — with a sleek, resort-like pool area, floor-to-ceiling windows, indoor swimming, quartz countertops and clear views of the Strip — they have “peace of mind” that management won’t let dog waste spread everywhere, he said.

“If you talk to any community manager, the top two problems they have are parking and dog poop,” said Mike Stone, PooPrints’ Las Vegas sales manager. “That’s No. 1 and 2 all the time.”

Vantage, a 110-unit complex at Gibson Road and Paseo Verde Parkway, has used PooPrints since it opened last spring. It’s common for rental properties to have pet rules, but not nearly as common to use DNA analysis to slap owners with fines for not bagging and trashing their dogs’ dumpings.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of it, and I’ve been in this industry for a very long time,” said Arterberry, who has worked at Vantage since Day One and in the apartment business for a dozen years.

It works like this: At Vantage, renters with a dog are given a PooPrints DNA-testing kit to take a saliva sample from the pet’s mouth, using a cotton swab. They also fill out a pet-registration card.

Vantage staff send the items to PooPrints producer BioPet Vet Lab, which processes the saliva and enters the DNA information, as well as the pet-registration details, into its database.

If groundskeepers at Vantage find dog poop out in the open — on the grass, near the pool, in the parking lot — they take a small sample, and the poop is put into a plastic bottle with liquid solution provided by BioPet. Staff members cover the bottle with a plastic bag and then ship it, FedEx Express, to BioPet’s lab in Knoxville, Tenn.

BioPet workers test the poop and, using the company database, find the matching doggy DNA.

The company charges property managers $39.95 to register a dog and $59.95 to test “one piece of dog crap,” Stone said.

Roughly 25 renters at Vantage have pets, mostly dogs, and two have been caught not cleaning their mess, Arterberry said. They received verbal warnings, and no one has been fined.

If someone gets fined enough times, they would not be able to have a dog in their home, Arterberry said, noting that residents who ignore their dogs’ droppings violate their rental contracts.

“The leases stipulate certain rules they have to follow,” he said. “Pet responsibility is one of them.”

Stone, who lives in the Chicago area, bought the rights to sell PooPrints in Southern Nevada about a year ago. He said only three or four properties in the valley use the service but at least 1,000 nationally do.

Property managers usually fine culprits around $200, he said, but “the higher the better.”

“A $250 fine is a pretty good (incentive) to bend over and pick up the dog waste,” Stone said.

Click to enlarge photo

Vantage Lofts in Henderson has a strict policy on cleaning up after a tenant's pet — each animal is even DNA-tested to identify feces left behind.

Cleaning dog poop is a simple if not smelly task. But plenty of pet owners nationally are willing to pay someone to clean up for them.

DoodyCalls, founded in 2000 in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., began franchising in 2004 and now operates in 23 states. The company “scoops over 10 million doggie deposits annually,” according to its website.

Besides selling PooPrints, Stone also owns a business called Doo Care, which picks up dog poop for 800 customers in the Chicago area. Las Vegas has a cottage industry of such companies, with cleaning firms including Happy Pets, KleanScoop, Poop Magician and Discount Pooper Scooper.

“Most people steer well clear of poop, but we dive right in. Metaphorically speaking, of course,” the website of Poo Snatchers says.

At an apartment complex, gated subdivision or other residential property, people can put up with certain eyesores, including grass that’s not as green as it should be. But seeing dog droppings “is a little more infuriating,” Happy Pets owner Dave Hardy said.

And threatening pet owners with fines might be the best way to prevent them from leaving waste behind.

“That would stop me from doing it,” Hardy said.

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