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DNA would soon catch owners for dogs' foul play

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council recently proposed sweeping dog exclusion zones to address the one in 10 irresponsible owners who do not pick up his/her dog's faeces (News, May 27).

Two days later, following a significant public outcry, the inept public officials involved had to perform a humiliating volte-face (News, May 29).

There is a more efficient and effective approach:

l Council officers (eg dog wardens, street sweepers, etc) coming across dog faeces could collect a small sample along with relevant details (eg date, time, GPS co-ordinates) along with a photograph.

l For less than £100, a laboratory test can determine the dog's DNA from the sample.

l Since April 2012, it has been a requirement of law for all dogs of eight weeks and older to be microchipped to facilitate the identification of the dog and its owner. A minor change in that legislation could require that the dog's DNA formed part of the information on the microchip database.

l In the meantime, as was widely reported in the English media, like Barking (yes, seriously) and Dagenham Council, samples could be stored until such times as offenders can be identified and prosecuted retrospectively for any offences.

l Take offenders straight to court for the £1,000 fine plus laboratory costs and forget about the paltry £80 fixed penalty, which is not a deterrent.

With this approach, the guilty are punished and the nine in 10 responsible dog-owners are unaffected.

If the bureaucrats at the council are still keen on implementing a borough-wide exclusion zone, then perhaps they could ban all cats from roaming outdoors.

Cats defecate indiscriminately in gardens and sand-pits, where children play, and no owner picks up after them.



Belfast Telegraph


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