London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council is leading a new way in combating dog fouling as it becomes the first UK council to introduce "PooPrints" dog poo DNA testing
Inconsiderate dog owners in London are being given paws for thought, as a London Borough becomes the first local authority in Britain to introduce dog poo DNA testing to encourage errant owners to clean up their acts and promote a cleaner, greener community.
Rather appropriately, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has become the first council in the UK to introduce the DNA sequencing expertise of PooPrints. The brainchild of Tennessee-based company BioPet Vet Lab “matches the mess” for communities across 45 states of America, as well as in Canada and in trial programmes in Israel, Singapore and now the UK.
Leader of London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council Cllr Darren Rodwell said:
“We are the first Council in the country to get really tough on dog mess and pet owners who do not act in a socially responsible way. The vast majority of dog owners in Barking and Dagenham are socially responsible but unfortunately a selfish few think it’s ok to not clean up after their pet.
“Dog mess not only spoils our streets - it’s also a health hazard and especially to young children. It’s why we are using this innovative approach in making a cleaner, healthier and better Barking and Dagenham."
The innovative approach will be unveiled as part of a Dog Fouling Forum, entitled “Leading a New Way', taking place at Barking Learning Centre on 28 April from 1pm to 3.30pm. Councillor Darren Rodwell, the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, will open the forum before guest speakers including Keep Britain Tidy, the Kennel Club, and PooPrints UK license holders, Streetkleen give key addresses about how to combat dog fouling.
An open discussion exploring how to foster positive dog ownership and civic pride will then follow. Members of the public are being encouraged to join the debate on Twitter by tagging their opinions about dog fouling with the hashtag #LeadingaNewWay.
PooPrint UK's DNA dog waste management technology could potentially be used in conjunction with new legislation, known as Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO), to clamp down on errant dog fouling. Councils can now enforce a PSPO on any public space within its area – including public parks, cemeteries and beaches – if they believe that certain anti-social behaviours (like dog fouling) could have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of others in that locality.
Dog owners frequenting these areas could be encouraged to have their dog's DNA registered with PooPrints UK. The process works by taking a painless cheek swab from the dog, which is sent to BioPet's PooPrints laboratory and the individual dog's profile is then added to the DNA World Pet Registry. If an owner fails to pick up after their pooch, a quick test on a faeces sample can be traced back to their registered dog with 99.9% accuracy.
Welsh biotech company, Streetkleen, is rolling out PooPrints UK on behalf of US firm, BioPet Vet Lab. Streetkleen Managing Director, Gary Downie, believes that the combination of DNA testing and potential PSPO enforcements could be the most effective means of ensuring that dog owners are held accountable for their dog's actions.
Mr Downie said: “Dog waste is a significant problem on Britain's streets. It poses an underestimated threat to our health, particularly that of our children, as well as the environment and the local economy. Local authorities are creaking beneath the financial and administrative burden of cleaning up after inconsiderate dog owners. But with PooPrints there is no place to hide. The US, and other countries, have experienced reductions in dog fouling by as much as 90% after introducing this programme.
“For the vast majority of responsible dog owners this should pose no problem at all. In fact, we believe that the minimal cost involved in the DNA sequencing process will pose value for money when the reckless minority of dog owners are brought to task and public spaces in Barking and Dagenham become cleaner, greener and more pleasant environments for everyone.”
The Pet Food Manufacturer's Association (PFMA) estimated that there were around nine million pet dogs in the UK in 2014, with nearly a quarter of all households (24%) owning a canine companion. The natural consequence is an incredible 1,000 tonnes of faeces produced every day, with much of it thought to be deposited in public areas.
A recent report by Keep Britain Tidy suggests that the hidden cost of littering is as much as £1billion a year in England alone. Even back in 2005, a staggering £22 million (up to £100,000 per authority) was estimated to go towards dog waste collection, disposal and related costs – like dedicated dog waste bins, street cleansing, enforcement activities, signage and public communications – according to The Waste Improvement Network.
The human cost is just as high. Toxocariasis is an infection caused by roundworm parasites, called Toxocara, found in the faeces of dogs, cats and in contaminated soil. If ingested, the roundworm eggs hatch into larvae that penetrate through the walls of the digestive tract and, in extreme cases, can migrate to the eyes and cause serious sight problems. Whilst the number of cases is low, studies have shown that up to three per cent of the UK population have antibodies to the parasite through ingesting it at some point.
Dog fouling is one of the most pressing and emotive anti-social problems nationwide and is one of the most common causes of complaints to MP's, local authorities and local councillors. Four in 10 people consider it to be a problem in their area and believe that it is on the rise. Dog waste also poses a significant economic impact by deterring inward investment and tourism to an area.
Recent advances in sequencing technology have now made DNA analysis an affordable solution to tackle anti-social dog ownership. The cost can be as low as £15 to £30 per dog, depending on the size of the programme and number of dogs registered. Once a programme is set up, the only additional costs are for “matching the mess” analyses, which become a rarity. The cost for waste matching is between £55 to £70, which local authorities can recoup through fixed penalty notices.
Notes to Editors
· Eric Mayer, Director of Business Development at BioPet Vet Lab, said: “Our aim with PooPrints is to make every city cleaner, and greener, one poop pile at a time. PooPrints has resulted in a significant reduction in dog waste in over one thousand communities in the US, and we are excited to partner with Streetkleen and LBBD to bring our proven DNA pet waste management program to the UK.”
· About Barking and Dagenham Council:
· About Streetkleen and PooPrints UK: The ethos of Streetkleen is to combine sustainability and innovation to help individuals, organisations and local government adopt a new approach to an age old problem - dog waste. New venture, PooPrints UK, “matches the mess” through DNA analysis. For cities with thousands (if not millions) of dogs, the only foolproof tool in enforcement of dog waste policy is through positive identification with DNA. PooPrints UK provides the evidence needed to enforce local dog policy, leaving public open spaces clean and welcoming to dog owners and non-dog owners alike. For more information, please visit www.streetkleen.co.uk.
· About BioPet Vet Lab: BioPet Vet Lab is a biotechnology company specializing in animal genomics located in Knoxville, Tennessee. BioPet’s research and development group explores genetic science in order to offer new tests that can be used to improve the healthcare and quality of life for our beloved pets. For additional information about BioPet Vet Lab and the PooPrints programme, visit their website at www.biopetvetlab.com or www.pooprints.com.
· #LeadingaNewWay: Members of the public are being encouraged to join the debate on Twitter by tagging their opinions about dog fouling with the hashtag #LeadingaNewWay.
· PFMA Pet Population 2014 (2014) [online] http://www.pfma.org.uk/pet-population-2014.
· Campbell, F. (2007) People Who Litter: ENCAMS Research Report, ENCAMS, Wigan, UK.
· Sherrington, C., Darrah, C. and Hann, S. (2014) Exploring the Indirect Costs of Litter in England, Keep Britain Tidy Research Report, Wigan, UK.
· Atenstaedt, R.L. and Jones, S. (2011) Interventions to prevent dog fouling: a systematic review of evidence, Public Health, Vol. 125, No. 2.
· Waste Improvement Network (WIN) (2011) WIN Focus 12 Cleaning Up Dog Waste [online] http://www.win.org.uk.
BBC (2013) Eight radical solutions to the problem of dog mess [online] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-