Could DNA database put an end to city's dog fouling problem?

There are average 1,288 street cleansing requests relating to dog fouling each year in Edinburgh.

There are calls for a “dog DNA database” to tackle the scourge of dog fouling across Edinburgh.

The scheme could see owners having to register their canines with the city council, which could test samples of poo found left in the street and issue fines accordingly.

Councillor Christopher Cowdy said everything the council has done so far to address the issue “hasn’t seemed to work”.

The Conservative councillor tabled a motion at the Transport and Environment Committee on Thursday calling for a report on “the practicalities of establishing a Dog DNA register for the city, how it could be enforced, likely costs to set up and run, and how much might be funded through issuance of fines”.

He admitted it “might take a couple of years” to get up and running but said Edinburgh could be the “vanguard for combating the national problem”.

In the three years to December 2022 there were on average 1,288 street cleansing requests relating to dog fouling each year in the city.

And although the council already has the powers to issue fixed penalty notices of £80 to offenders, only four were issued by authority in 2021 which councillor councillor Cowdy said reflected “the difficulties prosecuting under the current regime”.

He said: “I suppose I thought about a dog DNA test as being the only real way you can make out for definite whose dog did what.

“The general idea I’m thinking of is there would be an Edinburgh by-law that would require dog owners to register their dogs with the city council who would hold a database.

“You would be obliged to bring your dog, a DNA swab would be picked up from the dog and recorded on the database, and then if there could be a team of wardens searching for dog foul they would pick it up, take a test from it and hopefully track it down.”

Councillor Cowdy said officials confirmed to him the idea was “practically feasible”.

He said: “There are obviously issues that most responsible dog owners pick up after their dog anyway and irresponsible dog owners might not be inclined to register their dog in the first place.”

But he added it was a “big problem” that had to be addressed.

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