Editorial

Could DNA testing beat dog fouling?

It’s unhygienic, disgusting and happens all too frequently. Why do some owners still fail to clean up after their dogs? Pet stores around the country sell a plethora of scoops, bags and other gadgets to make this (admittedly unpleasant) task as simple as possible.

Science may have the solution. In the future, councils could find themselves ID-ing the steaming piles littering pavements and playgrounds. BioPets, a US-based company, has developed a kit that uses dogs’ DNA to match the mess to the perpetrator. Its UK representative, Streetkleen has announced that a number of Local Authorities have already expressed an interest.

The first trial will take place in the east London borough of Barking and Dagenham from September 2016. The DNA is collected using a swab and will not cause pain to the animals. The dog’s details will then be added to a registry. Tests are said to be over 99 percent accurate.

Let’s hope this is the answer. Various attempts to tackle the problem have been made over the last few years. Keep Britain Tidy rolled out a ‘We’re Watching You’ campaign, in an attempt to shame dog walkers into scooping up the muck. Posters featuring giant glow-in-the-dark eyes stared down animal lovers who offend under the cover of darkness. The Defra-funded pilot reported a 46 percent reduction in fouling.

The mess, aside from looking and smelling unpleasant, is dangerous and may lead to problems as toxocariasis. Various local authorities have attempted to shame pet owners into cleaning up using methods such as spray painting the muck to draw attention. 

Pet professionals may be able to help stop offenders. Placing useful products in prominent positions or keeping signs or posters in store may give careless dog owners a push in the right direction.

Let’s hope our streets will soon be free from fouling.

 

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