A Tech Entrepreneur Finds a Niche in Pouncing on Law-Breaking Pet Owners PooPrints uses DNA samples to track down dumping doggies and the scofflaws who don't pick up after them
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Tom Boyd of Knoxville, Tenn., has been an entrepreneur for 50 years. He created Fi-Shock, one of the first electric fences for dogs and livestock; Mark Electronics, a major electronics supplier; EDP Biotech, which is researching an early detection test for colon cancer; and BioPet Vet Lab, a DNA testing service for determining dog ancestry.
That may have been enough to keep most people satisfied, but in 2009, Boyd was bitten by the business bug once again, so he asked his DNA experts to brainstorm untapped niches for the technology. The answer? Dog poop. Enter BioPet Vet Lab's PooPrints, a service that fingers dumping doggies via the DNA in their stools. "After a year of testing, we found our technology had 100 percent accuracy," Boyd says, "and I've always been in the dog business, so it was a natural fit."
PooPrints operates as an exclusive distributorship. The company's distributors sign contracts with apartment buildings, homeowners associations, nature centers, small towns or any group hoping to keep parks and sidewalks clear of pet waste. The PooPrints owner collects DNA swabs from all the pooches in the neighborhood, and BioPet adds them to a database. The next time an unexpected present is found, a small sample is sent to BioPet, where it is compared to the database, the culprit is revealed and the owner is assessed a fine.