Dog mess could be subjected to DNA testing under plans being considered by a council
Dog mess could be subjected to DNA testing to identify the pets and owners responsible, under plans being considered by a council.Officials in Lancashire are in discussions with a forensic vet over plans to analyse dog dirt found on pavements and in parks.
The scheme has been used effectively in Europe and the United States and is seen as an option to help tackle the growing problem of dog fouling.
Last year, Hyndburn borough council voted to call on the Government to increase the maximum fixed penalty notices for dog fouling from £75 to £1,000.
Ken Moss, a councillor who proposed the scheme, said talks about DNA testing are at an “early stage”.
If it goes ahead, it would be one of the first schemes of its kind in the country.
Mr Moss, who is chairman of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, said: “I am led to believe there are only two of these vets in Britain and they work by analysing the samples and identifying the dog by DNA. It’s something that has been used in tourism hot spots on the Continent and is something they are looking to get a foot hold of here in England.
He added that he did not know what the project would cost. “It would probably rely on some database,” he said. “It might be that it’s unrealistic and cost too much or rely too much on voluntary information from the public.”
Similar schemes in the US and Germany have relied on a DNA database with either fur or saliva samples being taken from dogs in a local area. Any dog faeces found in public places are then tested and checked against the DNA database to identify the offenders.
Harvey Locke, the former president of the British Veterinary Association and a practising vet, said current legislation would make it difficult to introduce a dog DNA database.
He said: “It is possible to identify dogs from a faeces sample, but you need to have a database with all the dogs in the area to identify a particular dog.”
He added that there were legal issues to be taken into account. “If somebody has seen a dog fouling and wants to report a particular dog, you would need to take a sample and that would require the owner’s consent,” said Mr Locke. “I am not aware of any legal framework that would allow this to happen.”
The proposals are the latest in a series of measures being taken by the council to help tackle the amount of dog mess in the streets. Police community support officers are being urged to issue dog fouling fines and extra dog warden patrols have been arranged.