by J Retinger
Over the last few years, apartment operators have been reexamining the health and safety procedures they currently have in place. And one of the biggest issues that keeps surfacing and requires more attention is how to solve the unscooped pet waste problem at apartment communities.
Although pet owners have a responsibility to pick up after their pets, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they do. More often than not, pet owners will either leave pet waste behind entirely or bag it up without disposing of it properly. According to internal data from PooPrints, 40% of pet owners do not pick up their pet’s waste.
Unscooped pet waste not only makes a community unattractive to potential residents and can cause a decrease in revenue, it also poses tremendous health hazards to both pets and people. Humans can be exposed to harmful pathogens from pet waste that isn’t disposed of properly, especially in communities where humans and animals live in close proximity. Animal waste can also last for as long as four years if it isn’t picked up.
To combat this issue, apartment operators across the industry are revamping their pet waste management procedures by implementing various onsite solutions and utilizing advancements in technologies.
Many operators have installed more well stocked pet waste bag stations or imposed fines to pet owners who fail to pick up after their pet. But these are just small bandages on the problem as unscooped pet waste is still left behind despite these measures.
The truth is, operators can never fully address the issue in an effective manner until they find a way to identify the offending parties who have made leaving behind pet waste a habit. The remedy has eluded the industry for years. But new advancements in technology have provided answers to operators for many different onsite issues. Biotechnology solutions, such as forensic DNA services, are providing a new tech-based method for better pet waste management procedures while holding pet owners accountable.
The latest Multifamily Pet Policies and Amenities survey conducted by PetScreening and J. Turner Research found more than 60% of renters own a pet, and that percentage is only growing. While some operators may choose to simply restrict pets, many are searching for ways to make their communities more pet friendly in order to expand their prospective resident pool and enhance resident satisfaction. With that comes the challenge of adequately addressing the pet waste problem, as it is the number one nuisance associated with pets.
According to an article in Rental Housing Journal, the burden of unscooped pet waste falls on the shoulders of property managers where city ordinances allow fines to be assessed to the operators of apartment communities if waste is left behind. But opposed to installing costly video surveillance or having onsite team members “spy” on pet owners and their pets, operators are opting for a cost-effective, long-term solution.
In an effort to hold pet owners accountable and get unscooped pet waste under control, operators across the country are implementing DNA testing as a way to identify those responsible. Operators utilizing biotechnology like DNA testing for pet waste management incorporare the service into the lease. Per the lease agreement, pet owning residents provide a DNA sample of their pet via mouth swab upon move in. The DNA information is stored, so when unscooped pet waste is located onsite, operators have the ability to pinpoint the pet owner who is responsible.
This eliminates the sometimes awkward interactions of confronting a resident about their unscooped pet waste and holds the pet owner accountable with a fine. Residents are less likely to make the same mistake twice when there is a fee involved for leaving pet waste behind.
Companies utilizing biotech services have reported a 95% average reduction in unscooped pet waste that’s left unattended after implementation.
There are a number of reasons to reduce the amount of pet waste left behind at a community. Implementing pet waste policies, implementing fines and even leveraging technology to assist will save onsite teams time, frustration and money. But more importantly, finding the right pet waste management procedure, whether it’s policy or technology based, will support operators in protecting the health and safety of all of their residents, onsite team members, pets and maintain curb appeal.