There’s a startup for everything these days. He will pay you to pick up your pet’s feces in the name of science and he will give you cash in return. Charming, right?
Oakland-based startup AnimalBiome has made a public call to poop. The startup asks East Bay residents to contribute to AnimalBiome’s growing feces bank, a kind of biorepository that collects feces from dogs and cats for veterinary research.
Sounds like a yucky request, but the startup is making the deal a little less nasty: Participants will receive $100 per month per pet to collect solid deposits left behind by our furry friends. AnimalBiome will also reimburse annual fees for veterinary exams and monitor the gut health of the donor animal. Pet owners don’t even have to deliver stool samples to the lab.
The startup, founded by microbial ecologist Holly Ganz, primarily researches the microbiome of companion animals—in other words, the gut health of your dog or cat. The company is trying to grow a bank of healthy pet poop to better understand the causes, cures, and treatments for cats and dogs with intestinal problems.
One of its key programs consists of fecal microbiota transplant, or poop transplants, which can help sick pets who need important gut bacteria normally found in healthy poop. In other words, that healthy poop from the feces bank can be transferred to the intestines of a sick animal.
“This research helps veterinarians, the pet health industry and pet owners solve pet health problems such as diarrhea, itchy skin, allergies, bad breath and other ailments associated with the gut microbiome,” AnimalBiome said in a statement. “The success of this cutting-edge work depends on access to healthy pet feces.”
How to take part
Yes, there is a catch. Only residents of the East Bay between San Leandro and El Cerrito can participate, and medium- to large-sized dogs are “ideal candidates” for poop bank donations. However, cats of all sizes are welcome to participate. Pets must also not have underlying health conditions and pass a prescreen application.
Pet waste management has been a perennial problem for the San Francisco Bay Area. The famous mayor of San Francisco Harvey Milk originally campaigned for office on a poop-focused platformand reports of animal and human feces on the streets of SF have only skyrocketed in recent years.
Companies like AnimalBiome are tapping into a niche, but seemingly growing corner of the pet waste industry: finding a use for the waste our pets poop. AnimalBiome’s work, for example, repurposes pet feces for veterinary research, while a New York district compost about half a ton of dog poop per year, all to help flowers grow in the medians of the streets.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I suppose.
Interested East Bay Pet Owners you can enroll in the study here.