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Dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets to be tracked down using DNA tests

Dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets in part of east London could be tracked down using DNA testing.

Credit: Reuters

Barking and Dagenham look set to become the first council in the UK to use the technique to identify owners, who could then face fines of up to £80.

The Council currently spends over £2 million each year clearing up dog mess and employs a dedicated dog ward to deal with it.

Barking and Dagenham Council in east London Credit: Google Street View

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 getting tough on dog muck to make a cleaner, healthier and better Barking and Dagenham.

– Councillor Darren Rodwell, Barking and Dagenham
  • The council is working out the best way to register the DNA of each dog in the borough
  • Samples could be taken at the same time dogs are microchipped, which becomes a legal requirement from April 2016
  • Collecting DNA involves a cheek swab which is taken from the dog and sent to a laboratory
  • The dog's profile is then added to a DNA registry

If an owner fails to pick up the mess after their dog, a quick test will be taken from the offending faeces which can be traced back to a registered dog with 99.9 per cent accuracy, according to the council.

I believe the combination of DNA testing and enforcement could be the most effective means of ensuring owners are held accountable for their dog's actions. In the US, we have experienced reductions in dog fouling by as much as 90 per cent after introducing the 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 testing will pose value for money when the selfish minority of dog owners are brought to task and public spaces in Barking and Dagenham become cleaner, greener and more pleasant environments for everyone.

– Gary Downie, Streetkleen Managing Director

A special forum will also look at introducing a pilot scheme which, if successful, will be rolled out across the borough from September 2016.

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