FORT KENT, Maine — As a journalist, there are few things I enjoy more than a good scoop. A good news scoop, that is.

But as a journalist who also is a musher, I know scoops come in all shapes, sizes and forms, and every so often, the world of scoops collide.

Now that spring is in the air and the northern Maine snowpack finally is receding, it appears scooping has become the news. More specifically, scooping up after one’s dogs has become the news scoop.

According to a recent article in the local digital paper Fiddlehead Focus, two-legged residents in Fort Kent are finding it difficult to enjoy strolling the trails of Riverside Park, thanks to the “contributions” of some of our four-legged residents.

Numerous towns around Maine have ordinances against leaving behind what your dog leaves behind, including Fort Kent.

Beyond that, it’s just good manners, as Fort Kent Town Manager Don Guimond pointed out.

“People should pick up after themselves and their pets,” he said in the online article. “It’s a public park. It’s for everybody to enjoy, and when you leave your feces behind it makes it difficult for others to enjoy [the park].”

Pretty hard to argue with that.

Last summer Rockland residents were faced with the closure of Snow Marine Park because of a high level of the E. coli bacteria blamed on unscooped dog poop in what was becoming the town’s unofficial dog park.

More recently, a friend of mine in central Maine described on social media witnessing a rather large dog leave a rather large deposit at a public park while the nearby owner busied himself looking anywhere but at his dog.

My friend even tried to be helpful.

“I proceed toward him waving a dog bag and offering it to him in case he was out — it happens,” he wrote. “He proceeds to tell me to mind my own business! I reminded him there is an ordinance that requires he clean up after his dog. He menaces me with a long stare and tells me again to leave him alone.”

Luckily, things did not escalate into poop rage, but it’s easy to see how that could happen.

Overseas, in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham — Google it; it’s a real place — residents face stiff fines for not policing their pooping pooches.

In addition, in a sort of Scotland Yard-meets-CSI-meets Lassie move, the city is using DNA forensic testing to match dogs to their droppings in cases of alleged fecal felonies.

Council leader Darren Rodwell told the London Evening Standard, “The vast majority of dog owners in Barking and Dagenham are socially responsible but unfortunately a selfish few think it’s OK to not clean up after their pet. Dog mess not only spoils our streets — it’s also a health hazard and especially to young children. It’s why we are getting tough on dog muck to make a cleaner, healthier and better borough.”

During an upcoming “dog fouling summit,” community leaders from Barking and Dagenham will meet with representatives from kennel clubs, civic groups and “ Streetkleen,” the firm behind PooPrints DNA testing.

What I would not give to cover that summit.

Participants, according to the London Evening Standard, will discuss encouraging dog-owners to get their pets registered on a DNA database and possibly combine that with a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped by next year.

According to Streetkleen’s website, once a dog’s DNA is entered into the database, the pooch receives a special blue collar tag with its lifetime DNA registration number on it.

From there, one can only assume, it’s a slam dunk case to match offending droppings with the puppy perp.

The forensic technology has crossed the pond, where the Seattle Times reports company BioPet Vet Lab out of Knoxville, Tennessee, is providing PooPrint testing kits to Seattle area condo complexes and homeowners associations at a cost of $29.95 per DNA test.

All this is predicated, of course, on dog owners actually taking the time to collect the DNA samples and register them with the company.

Is it just me, or does that seem as though a lot to expect from people seemingly too lazy to bend over and collect their own dog’s waste?

Then there is the whole matter of canine profiling, mishandling of DNA to incriminate innocent dogs and cross-contamination in the DNA storage facility.

Believe me, I’ve watched enough crime shows to know all of that is a very real possibility.

For now, I am hoping we can rely on the inherent good nature in most dog owners to keep those extra baggies in their pockets for when Fido or Spot does his daily business.

As for me, luckily there is enough land on Rusty Metal Farm that the sled dogs and spoiled house dog, Corky the Shusky, are free to roam and answer nature’s call far off the beaten track — leaving me to sniff out real scoops.

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent is an award winning writer and photographer, who writes part time for Bangor Daily News. Her column appears here every other Friday. She can be reached by email at

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.