herald

Saturday 25 May 2019

'DNA test dog poo to sniff out owners who don't pick up'

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Pick up or pay up

Dog poo on the streets of Dublin could be tested for DNA to clamp down on owners not cleaning up after their pets, two city councillors have said.

Green Party councillors Claire Byrne and Patrick Costello have submitted a proposal to the council's environment meeting tomorrow calling for drastic action on what they see as an epidemic of dog dirt being left in the capital's streets and parks.

Fines

They have also called on Environment Minister Richard Bruton to dramatically increase fines, which are currently set at €150.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Costello said the city needs to look at "creative ways" of dealing with the issue.

Both councillors said dog dirt is the biggest issue raised when they are canvassing voters and has been since before the last local elections were held in 2014.

Mr Costello said the DNA testing of dog poo has worked well and is being continued by Barking and Dagenham Council in London.

The English borough authority began collecting dog poo in January 2016 to compile a three-month DNA database with registered dogs.

Asked what he would say to people who thought the idea was "barking mad", Mr Costello said it is working well.

The councillor said the cost of the DNA testing could be added to the fine the pet owner would subsequently have to pay.

"You have to build up a DNA database which you can do when chipping the dog, so you take a sample and at that point you put it on the database," he said, adding that it overcomes the evidence problem with the fine.

Figures provided by the council last November showed that of 135 dog fouling fines issued to date, only 83 were paid.

Of those, four were issued in 2018, with only one paid.

Another measure the councillors are calling for is the installation of waste bag dispensers in public parks.

"It comes up at the doors all the time," Ms Byrne said.

"I feel like it's getting worse rather than better.

"We fought really hard to get dog-only litter bins in the city. It should be really easy to attach something to it so people can pull a bag off."

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