Now when your dog leaves his calling card on the neighbor's lawn, his name may really be on it. An apartment complex in USA will start collecting dogs' DNA to find out which owners are leaving waste behind. This month, dogs that live in the apartment complex will have their DNA collected and put in a database. The initiative is also helping to keep harmful bacteria from littering the grass and pavements, and also saving the property money on cleanup.
"This is a way for everyone to go green," one dog owner remarked. "There's a bigger awareness about the environmental issues,". Oftentimes, waste that's left behind can end up getting into the water system, she added.
She said most residents like DNA registration being implemented in their apartment complexes since it keeps the area cleaner. "They don't want their dog or their children getting into that mess."
The DNA registration process is relatively straight forward an not as expensive as you would be led to believe. Dog owners simply swab the inside and the dogs mouth and the resultant DNA will be put into a database. The cost of the mandatory swab is around £35.
Residents have to comply with the policy because it's been added as an addendum to their lease.
"We just were having problems with people not picking up after their animals," she said. When apartment personnel come across waste that a dog owner has failed to clean up, they can scoop it up and put it into a solution. It is then sent off to be tested. It's an easy process that doesn't take much time.
The property manager said residents will receive a warning the first time their dog has been identified as leaving waste behind. The second time they will face a fine and if it happens a third time they will be asked to remove their pet from the residence. The property manager remarked the complex "wanted to kind of keep residents accountable" for cleaning up the space on the property.
Residents were generally supportive of the initiative, resident Jane Ross, 65, said she's happy about the policy. "I've been grossed out by the number of people who haven't been cleaning up after their dogs," she said. Ross said when she walks her 8-year-old wheaten terrier Isabelle, she always sees waste left behind in the grass from other dogs, so she thinks the $50 residents have to pay is worth it.
"And since we pick up, we know that'll be the only time we have to pay," Ross said.
Another resident, Joe Johnson, 28, said he also supports the new policy. He takes his dogs Sampson and Stella out before work while it's still dark and has to use his cellphone as a flashlight to avoid stepping in waste he can't see. "From somebody that's dodging other people's, I'm OK with it," he said.
So could the same DNA database solution be used here in the UK?
Some progressive local authorities have already considered the idea with Hyndburn Borough Council receiving media attention back in 2012:
However, given the burgeoning UK dog population that has increased by 12.5% since 2012 , the financial, social and environmental impact that managing the over one million tonnes of dog waste produced in the UK annually. There is likely to be additional calls for a more structured approach regarding administrating the dog population of the UK.
The likelihood is that a reintroduction of the dog license would be required across the UK in order for the DNA database to be a significant tool. However given that micro-chipping is becoming compulsory would it be too much to add the simple process of the DNA swab ? We doubt it.
The benefits of a UK dog DNA database are massive. Especially to local authorities, farm owners and owners of accessible land who often have to deal with the sharp end of the dog waste problem. Having a DNA database that could identify individual dogs, and by association their ownership, would once and for all eradicate the nuisance of dog waste problems by ensuring traceability, but most importantly ensure that our open spaces are clean and safe for future generational use, and the term "responsible dog ownership" is not just a tagline.