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Debate: should we use DNA testing to tackle dog fouling? Part 2


Debate: should we use DNA testing to tackle dog fouling? Part 2
This article contains: dog poo toileting DNA Dog poo

Last week, Councillor Robert Coghill told us how he supports registering dogs' DNA in the battle against dog fouling. On the other side of the debate is Councillor Phil Scott, who believes that the answer is education, not enforcement

We recently ran a hard-hitting campaign to tackle the issue of dog fouling and the response was fantastic. We gathered enough intelligence to deal with the perpetrators by way of fixed-penalty notices. I'm not saying we've cleaned up the county, but we have raised awareness and pinpointed hotspots - our environment wardens now make a point of patrolling these regularly.

Although we like our wardens to be seen - it reassures the public and acts as a deterrent - we also run covert operations and we are starting a scheme to encourage volunteers to hand out poop bags and offer advice
in public areas.

We have discussed the option of a DNA scheme but as well as being potentially very tricky to enforce, we prefer to educate people rather than to wield a big stick. We like to keep people onside as we think it's the only real way of tackling the problem.

Of course, there will always be the minority of irresponsible owners who don't want to know - these are the people who have no qualms about giving you a false name and address. How would that work when compiling a DNA database?

You've got to consider the cost, too. Taking someone to court costs money - the very thing that a cash-strapped council may struggle to find. Then there's the human rights issue - it would be a potential minefield. But by working together through awareness and a zero-tolerance approach, we can crack the problem.

Councillor Phil Scott, portfolio holder for the environment, Hastings Borough Council, East Sussex


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Mrs Carroll Trevor
I think that education is a must in the field of cleaning up after dogs, but there is a number of people who simply open a door a let the dog run loose, so perhaps some DNA tests would act as a warning to those who break the law. But on the same lines ponies and horses should be micro chipped and I bet that a fairly substantial number of the ponies and horses used by the travelling population that is ruining this area in the NE of England at the present time, do not have their horses and ponies chipped.
Chistine Clark
Yet more of this nanny state where everything has to be regulated because of a few who have no decency standards. We will end up worse than living in a dictatorship if we carry on solving problems by regulations alone. The logistics of it are enormous as well. It would be much cheaper and easier just to clean the stuff up and encourage people to report fouling to dog wardens or hand the person a doggy bag if they see it happen. If we try and encourage schools to re-introduce some sense of responsibility rather than rights we may win the war against falling standards of behaviour and expectations of something for nothing.
Shiphrah Kovacs
I think these suggestions don't go far enough. I'm sick and tired of taking my kids to the park and finding the grass covered in disgusting and dangerous dog mess. It's revolting and spreads disease. I can't let my kids play in the local park; there's too much dog dirt.My proposal would be to remove the dog. Just take it away from the owner at the first offence. If you don't pick up after your dog, you lose the dog. Simple.
claire baker
Bring on the nanny state - its the only way forward because people from all social groups are lazy and will try and get away without 'bagging their poo'! Wigan Council spent £60,000 on prevention/minimal prosecutions in 2009 and the problem seems to be just as bad! A great big 'stick' is needed to reinforce certain people's behaviour - we are too soft on them. I'm sick and tired of scraping poo from my son's trainers - enough is enough! I disagree with Christine Clark - cleaning up after offenders doesn't change behaviour & schools have enough to worry about never mind trying to educate the lazy/ignorant about responsible dog ownership! Wardens are ineffective -they try their best but they can't police the whole of Wigan! Let's be more realistic - roll out DNA testing please!
Claire
I wrote my comments in 2013 and still hold these views. I am so glad the Council of Barking & Dagenham are piloting the PooPrints DNA scheme which I hope is mightily successful as I predict it will be!Councillor Phil Scott was woefully naive in thinking we can educate people to 'pick up poo'- councils have since tried and largely failed. Many parks and pavements in Britsin are plagued with faeces!Councillor Scott, do you still stand by your beliefs or are you realising 'the stick' is the only way forward?!
Petplan
Hi Claire, Thank you for sharing your comments with us on this topic - it's received a lot of attention in the news. Please do visit our blog to keep up to date with topics and debates. We post a new blog topic each week. Thanks Jade
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