DALLAS — Some property managers say it's one of the biggest problems they face: Piles of animal waste littering their grounds, left behind by irresponsible pet owners.
Apartment resident Brian Barcus doesn't like it, but he also doesn't like the proposed solution.
"I'd like to live in a poop-less community," he said, "but if they're gonna tell me I have to do something that's not in that lease, it's my turn to say, 'Tough luck.'"
Barcus and his family have a Yorkie named Brooklyn. They recently received a letter explaining a new program now being implemented at his complex, and at dozens of complexes across Dallas.
"I have several major clients in the Metroplex making this part of their mandated process," explained Cedric Moses, CEO of a company called PooPrints, which is responsible for the program. "And I'm hearing from new clients each day. I'm getting into military housing, student housing, senior assisted living housing as well."
Brooklyn and other dogs must surrender a DNA sample. That DNA is kept on file at a lab out of state. If an apartment worker finds doggie waste, they pick it up and send it off.
Moses' company determines which dog was responsible, and the owner faces a fine.
"It's accurate. It's 99.9 percent accurate," he said. "And it's just a swab to get the DNA. We don't want to clone Fido. Trust me on this. We do not want to clone your pet. We just want you to be responsible."
If the resident refuses to pay — or refuses to submit the dog's DNA — they risk termination of their lease, according to the letter.
"It's a privilege to have an animal. You need to be responsible for that, not make someone else clean up after your animal. That's not how we do business in the United States," Moses said.
Barcus isn't happy because he sees this as a change in the terms of his lease, which he tried to get out of months ago after he said his wife was the victim of a crime in their apartment parking lot. They wouldn't agree to change terms then, he said, but they want to change the terms now.
"They're forcing me to do something that wasn't in my lease; it wasn't something I agreed to," Barcus said. "If it was something I agreed to I understand, but I didn't agree to it, and I think it's wrong to force it upon me."
Dallas attorney Shonn Brown is not associated with the case, but says changes to existing leases are often hard to enforce. However, because the property management companies are claiming this is about a safety or environmental hazard, it would probably stand. She believes existing residents should know they are basically being put on notice, warning of a change in the terms of their next lease.
"And I believe a landlord may have a plausible argument that if it's a risk or concern to other tenants' safety, then they may need to regulate this sort of issue via the agreement with their tenant," Brown said.
Just the threat of a fine often leads to cleaner grounds, Moses said. But Barcus won't be sticking around to see it. His lease is up this summer, and he's already planning to move.