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Belfast council may use DNA to trace people who let dogs foul in street

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A motion for Belfast City Council officers to assess the possibility of analysing animal excrement has been passed at a committee hearing. (PA)

A motion for Belfast City Council officers to assess the possibility of analysing animal excrement has been passed at a committee hearing. (PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

A motion for Belfast City Council officers to assess the possibility of analysing animal excrement has been passed at a committee hearing. (PA)

A motion for Belfast City Council officers to assess the possibility of analysing animal excrement has been passed at a committee hearing.

Derry and Strabane District Council, the mayor of which was blinded in one eye after picking up dog mess as a child, is also considering the feasibility of such an approach.

Michaela Boyle was five years old when she lost the sight in her left eye after playing in sand containing the dog mess near her home.

She was unaware the sand was infested with parasites.

Alliance councillor Ross McMullan said that while the council gets around 100 complaints about dog fouling every month, just 69 owners were fined last year.

"We're talking about thousands of bits of dog poo," he added.

"Looking at these sorts of measures, as extreme as they may sound, is important."

Mr McMullan stressed he just wanted to explore what was possible. "The point is us identifying what would be necessary to actually bring in dog DNA testing. It's not an issue with technology - the testing is there," he added.

"It's for council officers to come back with some of those recommendations in the next couple months."

Mr McMullan's motion at the people and communities committee read: "The council agrees to undertake its own scoping exercise of DNA testing and to bring back recommendations on whether it is something that could be adopted for Belfast."

It was amended to include a suggestion for the council to consider other measure to prevent fouling.

The matter will go before the full council next month.

Local authorities in the UK and beyond have previously considered analysing dog excrement.

Last year an English council floated but rejected a plan to enter dogs' DNA into a database to trace the animals' owners if they failed to pick up after their pet.

A separate council in England ran a pilot scheme.

Belfast Telegraph