DNA tests on dog poo are being used to identify the offenders who, so far, have never been caught in the act.
In collaboration with US Laboratories Biopets, a UK firm called StreetKleen Bio are now offering a “PooPrints” service to local authorities which they believe could wipe out 90 per cent of the dog mess problem on UK streets.
BioPet Vet Lab Director Eric Mayer states:
“In towns and cities across the UK with hundreds (if not thousands) of dogs the only foolproof tool in enforcement of local dog waste policy is through positive identification with DNA.”
DNA samples are taken from offending mess and matched with samples taken with swabs from the cheeks of local dogs.
The approach has been adopted in the USA and several other countries over the past 4 years and is being pioneered in the UK by Hyndburn Council, which covers the Accrington area of Lancashire. Southport Lib Dem councillor Tony Dawson has asked local Council chiefs to keep in touch with Hyndburn Council to see whether or not this approach might be suitable for Southport and other areas covered by Sefton MBC. The idea is that the cost of the testing would be covered by revenue obtained from fixed penalties. The main saving claimed is from the deterrent effect as offending owners learn that they can be tracked down and hit with a large fine.
Councillor Dawson says:
“Responsible dog walkers already clean up after themselves through several legal ways. We want a system which makes the irresponsible minority sit up and take action. I am sick and tired of seeing poo bags hanging in bushes alongside footpaths, and piles of mess on pavements in both shopping and residential areas.”
In the UK, dog fouling remains one of the most emotive and complained about issues, with 1 in 4 people considering it a problem that is on the rise in their area. Not only is it unsightly and unpleasant, but it has been linked to significant health risks especially to the youngest members of our communities. Councils across the UK have highlighted tackling dog fouling as a priority, but despite their best intentions continue to grapple with dog owners who profess to clean up, but obviously don’t.
A recent study undertaken by Keep Britain Tidy estimated the cost of cleaning the streets of the UK at £1 billion.
The introduction of PooPrints has coincided with the release of new legislation: The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. This replaces Dog Control Orders with Public Space Protection Orders. These new powers give communities the opportunity to set conditions to help prevent nuisances such as dog fouling and other anti-social behaviour that can be considered detrimental to the quality of life to those with a locality.
Streetkleen Bio is a North Wales-based Enviro-Tech company. Its Managing Director Gary Downie comments:
“As a dog owner myself, the challenge was how do we combine positive dog ownership with access to open spaces whilst ensuring we have accountability to local dog policy? PooPrints is a cost effective, permanent solution to dog fouling that helps ensure that our open spaces are clean, safe and welcoming for dog owners and non-dog owners alike.”
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