February 18, 2016
War on dog fouling in Burnham sees council consider DNA testing

The problem of pavement dog fouling in Burnham-On-Sea could be tackled with DNA testing of waste, it's emerged this week. has reported on the problem of dog owners letting their pets foul streets and pavements many times during recent years, and residents have seen an upsurge in the issue in recent months.

Sedgemoor District Council has therefore been considering the use of high-tech DNA testing in a bid to prosecute dog owners.

Claire Faun, Sedgemoor District Council spokeswoman, told "There have been recent reports in the national media of councils and parish councils using DNA testing on dog poo in order for councils to prosecute owners. It should be noted that the testing is done and the database is held by commercial companies."

"With the advent of all dogs being required by law to be micro-chipped by April 2016, it would be seem to be a positive way ahead. However, it’s not compulsory for owners to register their DNA at the same time, although they can choose to do so by either a cheek swab."

"Any dog poo that is not picked up can be subsequently tested and if it matches, then a fine can be issued. Each DNA test costs in the region of £70/80 which presumably council-tax payers would have to subsidise."

"It is suggested that any responsible dog owner who go to the trouble of supplying a DNA sample of the dog’s blood and is aware that their dog’s DNA is on record are more than likely to be the owners who already “pick up”. Anecdotal evidence from across the country shows that owners who let their dogs poo anywhere are unlikely to voluntarily register its DNA."

She added: "Unless there was a comprehensive DNA database of dogs to compare results against, its effectiveness would be severely limited. Some urban councils are making it compulsory for dogs to have their DNA registered to be able to use their parks; ID is by way of a collar tag. This would be impractical in a rural or beach situation; and there is the added cost of policing the dog tags."

"With so many dogs visiting Burnham-On-Sea with holidaymakers; it would be additionally difficult to match against local results, unless there was a national scheme."

Claire Faun explained: "Sedgemoor has done initial investigations, and whilst any help for the dog wardens in combatting irresponsible dog owners is welcomed, this approach is not seen as practicable at present. However, the council is keeping a watching eye on areas where this method is applied, so it can assess the impacts in other areas of the UK."

"Until now, there has not been a commercial company providing the evidence of any successful prosecutions anywhere in the UK. Until there is evidence that this scheme works as a deterrent, SDC will continue with its own methods of prevention."

"Sedgemoor’s view remains that dog owners should be responsible for their dog’s behaviour and dog poo and remove it in a poo-bag, dispose of it in the bins provided or take it home and put in the domestic refuse."

"Sedgemoor’s dog wardens have the highest prosecution rate in Somerset and will continue to prosecute where they see owners not picking up. Catching offenders red-handed and the issue of fixed penalty notice and/or a visit to the court is seems to be the best deterrent in our area."


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