My dog-adoring friend was out of the door in a flash and storming down the road to confront a neighbour. She had spotted the man allowing his large labrador to foul the narrow pavement of a pretty Devon town – and then leaving the steaming result as a booby-trap for the unwary passer by. She returned flushed with success and panting slightly. “I thought it was him,” she said. “But it’s taken two years to catch him in the act.”
A kind of madness overcomes some dog owners. And sometimes an even greater madness overcomes their victims – like the man who collected an offending mess and smeared it under the owner’s car door handle. Relief (as it were) may be in sight in the form of PooPrints, a service to test the DNA of dog faeces. PooPrints is an import from the United States, where it is used in apartment blocks and retirement complexes. Streetkleen, a Welsh biotech company, has introduced the technology to Britain and is already in talks with local authorities.
According to the pressure group Keep Britain Tidy, there are more than eight million dogs producing more than 1,000 tonnes of mess every day. The annual cost to local authorities of clearing up was estimated way back in 2005 at £22 million. Opponents will protest that “we already have adequate laws”. The problem is not the laws, but enforcing them. I have even seen owners turning a blind eye as their dogs fouled on a supposedly dog-free beach. Being British, no one said a thing. Adam Michael, the Bude man who had to pay £600 in fines and costs in November for failing to clear up after his dog, was a rarity. Mr Michael was caught in the act by a council officer.
Dogs often carry and spread the nasty parasite Toxocara, a major cause of blindness and other unpleasant symptoms in humans. (Cats also carry the parasite, in case you feline friends thought you were getting away with it.) Dogs’ mess may harm more than just our children’s health – it can hardly be good for tourism. Pristine countryside and coastline is the main selling point for West Country tourism, so digging into a doggy-doo while building sand castles on the beach is sure to put off a holiday visitor. A noisy dog lobby will certainly go for the throat over DNA testing. Anyone who dares to criticise out loud is likely to be set upon by a baying pack. But dog fouling is one of the commonest sources of complaints to MPs, councillors and local authorities.
PooPrints, which also operates in Canada, Israel and Singapore, involves setting up a database of pets’ DNA. In parts of America pet owners have voluntarily registered their dogs on the database, though I can’t see that happening here. But it could work as part of a dog licensing scheme. Until 1987 dog owners were required by law to license their animals (and still are in Northern Ireland). You, me and almost everything of significance in our lives requires licensing and registration: why not dogs? Even the RSPCA has lobbied for the return of licences.Not only would it help to trace lost pets, deter irresponsible owners and clean up our parks and beaches – it might even reduce neighbourly conflict.
Read more: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Keith-Rossiter-DNA-test-stamp-dog-poop-pavements/story-25808459-detail/story.html#ixzz3XGm15sgW
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