Dog poop in public places is a perennial problem. Many owners are incredibly irresponsible and simply do not pick up their pooch’s mess. There have been several initiatives established up and down the country in response to the problem, each aimed at catching and punishing the offenders. One of these was Thanet Council’s ill-conceived plan to establish a canine DNA database.
The idea was a promising one at first glance. A DNA database would be created and then hold the profiles of local dogs. When a poop was discovered where it had no business being left, the mess could be profiled and the offender identified. DNA profiling has been incredibly effective in solving many crimes since it was first used by Leicestershire police in 1986. So, why not use it to identify careless dog owners?
Would You Be Prepared to Hang Yourself?
Well, the problem with this idea was the voluntary nature of the database. Pet owners could choose whether or not to register their furry friends. Many cooperated and submitted their pooch’s DNA. But perhaps Thanet Council might have considered the fact that few hardened criminals would ever present themselves at a Police station to voluntarily hand over a DNA sample. So, why would they expect the offending dog owners to submit their pets’ DNA?
Attempts to get people to hang themselves rarely succeed!
Canine DNA Pilot Scheme
The dog DNA scheme was piloted for three months. Registration began 1 July and councillors were keen to point out the alleged benefits to dog owners and dog walkers. Unsurprisingly, take up was rather low. The lack of enthusiasm had been predicted by TAG pet rescue, a local organisation. A spokesperson for TAG had labelled the scheme “pointless” when it was first announced and had expressed the view that it was “a strange idea”.
At the conclusion of the pilot period, the deputy leader of Thanet Council announced that the scheme would not be rolled out permanently. The scheme would have cost the council £20,000 per annum to operate but it has been anticipated that the costs would have been covered by the resulting fines. This was an awesome case of wishful thinking!
Dog Owners Stay Away
So, irresponsible dog owners failed to volunteer evidence which would later identify their transgressions to the authorities. Who would have thought it? However, the fact remains that dogs can be identified via their DNA. As microchips are now compulsory, wouldn’t it be possible to produce a DNA profile for every dog and add this to the microchip database?
Naturally, there would be a cost to owners, but this would be minimal compared to the cost of caring for their dog over its lifetime. DNA could be the solution to an unpleasant problem but only if participation in the scheme is compulsory.
In the meantime, it is CCTV and local wardens which catch naughty dog owners. But the appliance of science could be just around the corner.