It is more commonly used by law enforcement agencies to nail society’s worst offenders.
But now the power of DNA analysis could be harnessed by a Scottish council to collar selfish dog owners who refuse to pick up after their pets.
City of Edinburgh Council is looking at creating a ‘dog DNA register’ to deter owners of an estimated 13,000 canines from leaving their pets’ business on the streets of the capital.
Under the scheme, dog mess on a pavement would be collected and tested against the database. One option would be to send guilty owners a fine by post.
Councillors have been spurred into action after it was disclosed that just four fixed penalty fines were issued across the whole of the city in 2021.
Edinburgh council receives around 1,300 complaints about dog fouling each year
The move comes after the French town of Béziers attempted a pilot scheme requiring dog owners to carry their pet’s ‘genetic passport’, which could be used to identify miscreants.
Under the Béziers scheme, owners were expected to take their dog to a vet to give a saliva sample. It would be genetically tested and a document would be issued. Those stopped without their dog’s genetic passport would be fined €38 (£33). In addition, dog mess found on the pavement would be analysed, with the results sent to police.
They would then consult the pet register and match the details to an owner – who would be billed as much as €122 (£106) for street cleaning.
But the scheme ran into trouble after the move to collect DNA from the estimated 1,500 dogs in Béziers was rejected by a court as an attack on personal freedom.
Edinburgh council receives around 1,300 complaints about dog fouling each year, according to data for the past three years.
The Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 makes it an offence for a person in charge of a dog not to clean up the mess, handing councils the power to issue fixed penalty notices of £80 to offenders.
But Conservative councillor Christopher Cowdy, who tabled a motion for the DNA register last week, said the historically low number of fines showed the council’s strategy to stop dog fouling ‘hasn’t seemed to work’.
Mr Cowdy said: ‘I suppose I thought about a dog DNA test as being the only real way you can make out for definite whose dog did what. There would be an Edinburgh bylaw that would require dog owners to register their dogs with the city council, which would hold a database.’
He said dog wardens would pick up any mess and ‘take a test from it and hopefully track it down’.
Councillors have agreed that ‘options to help combat dog fouling’ will be drawn up next year that include ‘the use of fixed penalty notices’. Officials will also be asked to investigate ‘the practicalities of establishing a dog DNA register’.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Daily Mail