Interview: Debbie Huff of PooPrints

Do you ever wish it were possible to catch and penalize people who don't pick up their dog's poop?  Well, in thousands of managed communities across the nation, not only is it possible but it's a reality.  PooPrints is an effective pet waste management program, matching unscooped waste to the canine offender through DNA.  How does it work?  It's astonishingly simple.  Every dog owner on a participating property is required to register their dog on PooPrints' DNA World Pet Registry with a cheek swab.  Then, when unscooped waste is found, a small sample is collected and sent to the lab to identify the source.  Residents are fined for every offense and PooPrints reports that properties see up to a staggering 95% reduction in waste!

Needless to say, we had to find out more.  So we linked up with Debbie Huff of PooPrints of Philadelphia LLC which serves Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.  Here is what we learned:

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BBS: Who founded PooPrints and what is the story behind their idea?

DH: PooPrints was founded by BioPet’s Science team in 2008. BioPet was functioning as an outsourced Veterinary/Pathology Lab. We had a scientist that had recently moved to town living in an apartment community who saw the excess waste problem on the property. Then one morning the scientist herself accidentally stepped in a mess. She came into the office and said that there had to be a way to determine who left the waste.  At that time the team started to do some research on extracting DNA from fecal matter and PooPrints was born.  From there Tom Boyd, CEO of BioPet, and team discovered the need in the multi-family community and set out to develop a network of distributors.

BBS: What is the #1 concern that you hear from interested property managers?  How do you best address it?

DH: Other than cost…the most common question is, “How much time is involved in getting the program started at a location.”  There is a little extra time involved in starting the program because a DNA sample needs to be taken from each dog on the property.  Once management is trained on how to take a DNA sample they find out it only takes around 7-8 minutes to complete.  Not much time at all and it only has to be done once.  And when the benefits of PooPrints is explained to the resident during the DNA testing process, most locations find that their pet waste problems decrease by 75% because the program works great as a deterrent.  This frees up management time because they find they have a significant reduction in time they have to spend in handling pet waste issues and questions.

There is a onetime charge for a DNA test for each dog that lives on the property.  This cost can be less than the price of a large bag of dog food.  The DNA testing cost can become a part of the pet fee a location may charge.

BBS: Do resident pet owners at participating properties ever balk at the idea of registering their dog for this purpose?  How do you handle this issue (if it is one)?

DH: As a whole, most residents are thrilled to see PooPrints come to a property.  Once the program is explained to residents, pet owners and non-pet owners see that it will hold dog owners accountable for doing the right thing in regards to picking up pet waste.  Normally the pet owners that may balk at the program are the owners not currently picking up the poo and they know they are finally going to be held accountable.  Dog Poo on a property doesn’t only cause “curb appeal” issues, it can also cause disease and parasite problems for other pets and children on the property.  By explaining these concerns, management can usually overcome issues.

BBS: When unscooped dog waste is found who is usually the one to collect and submit it to your lab for analysis?  Residents, maintenance crew?

DH: If a property has a maintenance staff, they are usually trained to collect the poo and how to submit the sample to our lab.  In locations where there is not a maintenance staff the management may collect the sample.  At condos, I often find that a “dog committee” is usually formed and someone on that committee may collect the sample.  There are many ways to implement the program; implementation can be customized for the size and type of the managed community using PooPrints DNA pet waste management.

BBS: About how many accounts do you have open in New Jersey?  As the most densely populated state I’m sure it has a particular need for this service, am I correct?

DH: PooPrints has over 3,000 managed communities using our program in the USA.  We can also be found in Canada and Europe.  There is a growing concern about pet waste runoff into our waterways.  With the dense population of NJ and the many waterways, NJ has a real need to control pet waste and safeguard our environment.

BBS: We all know that the best thing about a dog business are the dogs.  While you may not deal with dogs directly on a daily basis, you surely have a cute/funny/unusual story to share...

DH: One of my favorite stories came from a property manager at an apartment that had a pet waste issue for years.  She found out about PooPrints off the internet and called me about starting on the program.  The announcement to start the program was sent out to residents on a Friday and she told me over the weekend residents were outside with buckets picking up their dogs waste.  The following spring, the PM told me it was the first time in over a decade that when the snow melted, their lawn was not covered in pet waste!  What a success story!

One of the hidden benefits of PooPrints is our free lost and found service.  Our lab has stated they get a call a week to help get a lost pet back to its owner!

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BBS: What is the ultimate, pie in the sky goal that PooPrints is trying to achieve and what active steps are they taking toward that end?

DH: PooPrints functions on three pillars. Promoting responsible pet ownership, protecting and expanding Pet Access, and safeguarding the environment. Our program focuses on accountability, but also allows for more dogs to live more places. Our vision for PooPrints is that it becomes a pet amenity, industry standard in the multi-family community. The program will allow for breed, size, and pet restrictions to be lifted. We see PooPrints paving the way to educate the masses on the additional benefits of DNA Registration, ultimately becoming a solution for municipalities. We take our science seriously and we are always evaluating our service and program to ensure that we are meeting the quality standards and ease of implementation that our clients demand. To assist in helping achieve these goals we are working to add value and resources within our technology that allow our communities and resident to understand the health and wellness of their pet. This gives our customers the added benefit of living in the digital age with their canine, and positions PooPrints to be the trusted resource in Waste management and pet health.

For more information about PooPrints please visit their website:

https://www.pooprintsphiladelphia.com/

Interview: Kevin of Big Business Scoopers

"Oh, and by the way, Kevin is awesome!"  That's how many of our conversations with customers tend to end.  This exclamation is often followed with an anecdote about how much the dog looks forward to Kevin's weekly visits or a time when Kevin went out of his way to make the dog feel loved.  Scooping five days a week, Kevin visits more homes and knows more dogs than other Big Business Scoopers (including owners Tina and Emily!)  So we thought it would be fun to interview him so everyone can get to know him a little bit better :-)

BBS: How did you get started working as a Pooper Scooper with Big Business Scoopers?

KB: I was recently laid off from my job in the pharmaceutical industry. As the primary caregiver for my sick father, I was looking for something  with flexibility. I was introduced to Tom Watson (then owner of Big Business Scoopers) at the time through mutual friends and the rest is history. 

BBS: What do you like most about the job?

KB: I love dogs so getting to see them every week is always a pleasure. I also love being outdoors plus it's pretty good exercise. I also take great pride in the work I do.  

BBS: What are some challenges that you encounter?  Other than the poop, of course!  

KB: With Big Business Scoopers working all year round I'd say working in the elements poses the biggest challenge. Maintaining a high level of service while being exposed to rain, sleet, snow, heat, and cold really make the job challenging at times. 

BBS: You have a dog of your own!  Tell us a little bit about her?  

KB: I have an 8 year old beagle/American foxhound mix named Daisy.  Daisy is a rescue who I got when she was 3 months old. She is a very active dog that I love spending time with. I consider her my child and my world. 

BBS: Aside from picking up poop, what do you consider to be the most important aspect of the job?

KB:  I would say safety of the property whether it be an open gate, damaged fence, and anything that we notice that homeowners may not notice. I like to believe servicing our customers runs deeper than just picking up poop. 

BBS: When you’re not scooping, what can you be found doing?  What are some of your hobbies/activities, etc.?  

KB:  Besides spending time with Daisy I try and keep myself busy. During the spring/summer I play in a baseball league and I compete in various obstacle races including Rugged Maniac, Terrain Race, and Warrior Dash to name a few. I am competitive by nature and I love a challenge. I play fall baseball before switching over to snowboarding and I also play in an ice hockey league during the winter. 

Kevin, Big Business Scooper, in his various activities and hobbies.

BBS: And now for some laughs!  Tell us your favorite funny scooping moment or your favorite scooping pun (there are so many!)

KB: There have definitely been some funny moments along the way. The funniest I would have to say took place in Essex County 2 summers ago. I always allow extra time to play with dogs I encounter. I was just about finished when I noticed the chocolate lab (don't want to give the dogs name) approaching me with what I thought was a toy because that's what generally happens there. Much to my surprise the dog was bringing me a garter snake as a present to me which isn't a good thing considering I am petrified of snakes. I definitely panicked and made a mad dash for the family jungle gym with the chocolate lab (snake still in mouth) in hot pursuit. I was up there for quite some time until the housekeeper looked out the window and noticed me. She called the dog inside and I explained what had happened. We both had a good long laugh about that one.

BBS: That is hysterical.  We wish we had a picture of that!!  Thanks for taking the time for this, Kevin!  Happy scooping :-P

And anyone reading ... we hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Kevin as much as we did!  Feel free to leave comments!

Interview: Chad Logan of Pick Up That Poop!

This past week we had the great honor of interviewing Chad Logan, founder of PickUpThatPoop.com.  We had previously connected via social media and as soon as we discovered how very passionate he is about dog poop we had to meet him!  After all, it isn’t every day that we connect with someone other than fellow pooper scoopers who is passionate about picking up after dogs!  So we had to get to know more about what he’s all about …

BBS: Okay, so you’re a man dedicated to educating people about dog poop.  There has to be a story behind that.  Tell us about it!

CL: I spent seven years in finance before I became a professional dog walker and now, ten years later, I'm focused on the other end of dog walking: poop.  Before Poop Bag Music, I started PickUpThatPoop.com which was a campaign to get dog owners to pick up after their dog(s) in June, 2012.  The idea for “do the right thing, pick up that poop” all started when I took our dog, Gus (a black lab mix that we adopted 13 years ago), out for his morning walk on June 10th (my birthday).  See, we have grass and trees between the sidewalk and the street outside of our town-home, and I counted not one, not three, but six piles of dog poop left behind.  Five on the grass and one right in the middle of the sidewalk.  I remember thinking, “That's my birthday wish.  I wish that every dog owner would do the right thing andpick up that poop!"  PickUpThatPoop.com became Home of the Walking Yard Sign.  We have over 30 designs to shop from: T-shirts, stickers, tote bags, mugs and more. In February 2015 I wanted a song to raise awareness on poo-pick-up.  Over one year later we now have seven "poo" songs and three songs about dog rescue. 

Chad Logan of Poop Bag Music playing his guitar and singing about dog poop.

Yes, I started Poop Bag Music as a way to educate people about dog poop but also as a way to give back by donating 50-100% of the profit from all sales to dog rescue groups.  I strongly believe in and support pet adoption.  It started with Gus, and now Jasper, a German Shepherd mix who we adopted 4 years ago.  We need more people to adopt, and stop buying!  It makes me sad when I hear,  “But we want a puppy.”  Guess what!  There are a lot of puppies that need to be adopted too.  But please consider an older dog.  All dogs matter! 

BBS: You leave for the No Poo Left Behind Tour in early July.  Where can people find you and what can they expect from the Tour?

CL: We will be hitting the open road on July 6th for our No Poo Left Behind Tour.  As we started planning this tour I said, "No matter if we raise $500 or $50,000 the No Poo Left Behind Tour is going to happen.”  But the amount of money raised will allow us to make more stops at local parks, poo-hot-spots, dog parks and dog rescues.  It will also allow us to make one or more donations to dog rescue groups we meet on the road that need help to stay open and/or expand to help more dogs in need. I'll be posting updates and locations as we go to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

BBS: There are some great sponsors backing you up for this tour.  How did you connect with these folks?

CL: With help from our wonderful sponsors, we were able to build our "poo" teardrop trailer.  It took about a year connecting on social media (Twitter) posting/tweeting about our No Poo Left Behind Tour and looking for sponsors. With them and people supporting us with downloads on iTunes and walking yard sign sales we can hit the road and spread the word not the poo and help dog rescue groups at the same time. Please check out and support our sponsors.  Their logos and links can be found on our website.

Chad Logan's No Poop Left Behind Tour Trailer which was purchased with help from sponsors such as Help Bags, Dawg Tree, Healthy Paws and more.

BBS: So what’s the big deal, anyway?  Why is it so important that people pick up after their dogs??

CL: Picking up after your dog(s) is a big deal.  First of all, in most states it's already law and if you get caught you can face a fine of $50 - $250 and up.  Not to mention it's the neighborly thing to do.  Nobody wants poo on their shoes.  I've read that nearly two decades ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified pet waste as a dangerous pollutant in the same category as toxic chemicals and oil.  You may not live near water, but un-scooped poop from your yard is carried by overland water flow or is washed into storm drains, ending up in far away streams, rivers and ground water.

BBS: Why do people have such a hard time with dog poop and how do you think we can we reduce this aversion to picking it up!?  (Besides, of course, awesome poop songs and swag.)

CL: Most people do pick up after their dog(s.)  It's just a few that don't.  Most likely if you are out walking and you see more than one pile left behind it's from the same non-picker-upper (same person, different day/poop.)  One sure way to make people pick up after their dog(s) would be DNA testing.  It's getting bigger every year.  HOA's and apartments/property management companies are signing up for this service to catch non-picker-uppers.  On the market today we have so many tools to help us pick up that poop.  There should not be excuses.  I even talked with a lady that could not understand why people can't pick up.  She said, "If I can do it blind, everyone should be able to do it one way or another!"  Now I know my "poo" songs won't change the world overnight or be as popular as Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift.  Just remember it's to help raise funds for dog rescue groups, and might get a few more people to pick up that poop. 

BBS: Well we are definitely cheering you on!!  How about we say goodbye by exchanging our strangest poop story!  We had a dog client who was regularly eating (and eliminating …) his owner’s cash money - sometimes big bills!  Your turn.

CL: Story time.  I was walking Gus with my mother.  I usually keep the leash short when we walk by this hill full of ivy, but this time we were talking and I forgot.  Well Gus just had to do his business.  He went up the hill as far as the leash would let him.  Mom looked at me and said, “Just leave it.  Everyone else does.  If you go up there you will end up stepping in dog poop.”  Well I had to pick it up.  Not only do I own PickUpThatPoop.com but I was wearing one of my walking yard sign t-shirts.  As I was heading up the hill, mom said something to me and as I turned around, my shoes got tangled up in the ivy and down I went, still looking for the pile of dog poop.  I could not find it … oh, I found it alright … on the backside of my shorts.  Lets just say after that we don't walk pass the hill with ivy anymore!

This is one of Chad Logan's many designs that can be printed onto shirts, mugs, stickers and more.  It is a picture of a doggie yoda saying "Going to pick up that poo, you are!  Hmmm ..."

Thanks again for this opportunity, and helping us spread word, not the poo.

Thank YOU.  Good luck on the tour!

Learn more about Chad at PickUpThatPoop.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Check out his awesome swag in his store.   And download his poop songs here.  And remember to PICK UP THAT POOP.  (A pooper scooper can help.)

 

Our Very First Blog Post!

Big Business Scoopers has been an active Pooper Scooper service in the Pet Care Industry for 13 years now.  (Where does the time go?)  And a few weeks back we launched our second website.  We couldn't be more excited!  Squarespace offers incredible features and flexibility that we hope will help us continue effectively serving dog owners in New Jersey.

With this second site we are introducing the world to our new dog poop mascot: Felicity the defecating Frenchie.  Yes, she doubles as a mild tongue twister.  But no, she could never replace our famed doggie doo doo logo, which needs no name.

Felicity the defecating Frenchie, a French bulldog pooping in a grass field.

Does your dog give you Felicity's indifferent stare as he or she poops all over your property?  But you don't feel indifferent about having to pick up all that waste?  It might be time to call us to come to your rescue :)