Help! Help! Barry Scheck, are you out there?
I need someone like you who is an expert in using DNA to spring criminals who have been wrongly convicted. A horrible misuse of DNA is in the works, and I need you to step in and help.
Actually, I could use the aid of anybody who, like me, is a resident of a homeowner association.
The Palm Beach Post (let’s give credit where credit is due) has reported that the Village of Abacoa, a small planned community in Jupiter, has passed a law targeting homeowners who don’t pick up after their pets.
Dog owners in the condominium association of 458 units will have to pay a fee of $200 starting August 1 to cover the cost of registering their dog’s DNA in the Pet World Registry database.
Then, if droppings are found in the public areas of the condos, the specimens will be collected and mailed in a plastic tube to the company’s headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn. If a dog is identified, its owner could face a fine of up to $1,000. Those refusing to pay could have a lien placed on their home.
I fear that this odious, not to mention odorous, infringement of Constitutional rights will spread to HOAs around the Sunshine State.
Last time I looked at our flag, this was still the United States and we are still ruled by a Constitution. (I know, a lot of people in Washington would say, “Constitution who?”) And there are things in the Constitution like “illegal search and seizure” and “right to privacy.” But I’m not going to give up my dog’s DNA to anybody, let alone pay $200 bucks to register it.
That’s right. So, if someone comes hounding me (sorry, but I had to say it) about my doggie’s DNA, I will say — as Charlton Heston was wont to say — “Pry it out of my cold, dead, fingers.”
Actually, my wife had a very good suggestion. Instead of being negative, she said, communities should look for a positive solution. Of course, she did add a bit of her own humor, saying, “Well, Florida has a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ law. Now it may have a ‘three poops and you’re out’ law.”
I wonder if Abacoa’s doggie poop problem is really that dire. I think it’s a clear case of overkill. If you lien enough houses, you’ll put a lot more people out of their homes. And that’s really not what we need in this economy. Can you imagine people standing on medians holding signs that say “Homeless for not picking up dog poop?”
And what will happen to the people who are not thrown out of their houses. Their association dues will go up, meaning they can’t buy food, which will mean they can’t go to the supermarket and get the plastic bags they use to pick up dog poop. It may be a never-ending cycle.
No, liens are not the answer. I hate to admit it, friends, but homeowners DO have a responsibility to clean up after their dogs. I do it, and while it’s not a lot of fun, it’s a necessity. I live in a very nicely kept association, and if one small thing helps keep the place looking good, it’s not too much trouble.
But associations also have to pull in their reins. Fining and putting liens on property are just going to anger people. Bring the problem up at association meetings. Make homeowners feel like they’re actually playing a part in making the rules.
Otherwise, I fear, people will fight like mad dogs in an effort to wipe out this proposal which is simply a big pile… well, a big pile of DNA.