Ireland’s Leitrim County is not playing around when it comes to keeping owners on top of curbing their dogs. After deciding that mere signs weren’t enough to keep their public spaces clean, the town’s council has decided to go full CSI-style in their efforts.
The council announced a plan last week to enacted DNA testing on abandoned dog feces left in places like parks, streets, walking trails and housing estates.
“The Leitrim Animal Warden will take samples of dog waste in areas with high levels of dog fouling and, using DNA, match the samples with saliva samples taken from dogs in the same area,” reported the Leitrim County News.
“Bag It, Bin It!” is the slogan for the council’s campaign.
“Recent research highlights how big the issue of dog fouling is, and we want to reinforce the message that this is solely a human problem and not a dog one,” stated the Leitrim County Council news.
People neglecting to clean up after their furry friends has to have been a problem in the residential area of the county for a long time now. Earlier in 2018, in an attempt to control the issues, the council also introduced the Special Award Category for their ‘The Big Scoop’ dog fouling awareness campaign. According to the Leitrim Observer’s 2018 research, 53% of locals opine that dog fouling is a big issue in the area.
As per Ireland’s Section 22 of the Litter Pollution Act of 1997, it is mandatory for dog owners “to clean up after their dog if it fouls in public places: for example, public roads and footpaths, housing estates, and recreational areas.” It is an offense if the owners failed to do so.
“An on-the-spot fine of €150 ($181) can be issued for not cleaning up after your dog in a public place, with a maximum fine of up to €3,000 ($3,626) if convicted in the District Court,” stated the Leitrim County Council news.
“In addition to dog waste being unsightly, it also poses a risk to health as it can contain bacteria such as E-coli and parasites such as roundworm, the larvae of which can cause loss of vision,” Leitrim County Council said in a statement.
In 2020, research carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of Dogs Trust in the Leitrim County highlight health risks associated with dog poop and reveal that “69% of people surveyed claim they often witness dog walkers not cleaning up after their dog, with 57% indicating that dog fouling is a big issue in their area. Of those surveyed, 64% claimed to have walked in it in a park, 31% have rolled a buggy through it and 11% have rolled their wheelchair through it.”
Leitrim County Council aims to tackle this issue and remind people to be more mindful of vulnerable members in their community who are at an increased health risk.
The U.K., which has a dog population of 9 million, introduced the DNA technology back in 2015 which has been somewhat successful in controlling the problem.
According to PooPrints, a DNA dog waste management company, each dog’s genetic profile is registered at the DNA World Pet Registry database after collecting a gentle cheek swab that contains the DNA sample of the dog.
A waste sample collection kit is used later to collect a nickel-sized sample of the dog poop which is then sent to BioPet Laboratories in a resealable container for testing. The unique genetic profile of the dog is generated and matched to the offending canine.
Though DNA testing might seem a bit extreme, it likely will receive less backlash than a sign that was posted in November in front of Portstewart Baptist Church in the U.K.
In a post on Instagram, the sign can be seen as saying “Electrified grass activated by dog poop,” which was met with hearty criticism. England also tried to make a negative a positive by attempting to turn dog poop into renewable energy by powering a lamp post by extracting gas from poop back in 2018.
Also in 2018, a Minnesota property owner used the same technique of DNA testing dog feces to charge pet owners who left waste on their lands.