A report surrounding the possibility of introducing DNA testing on dogs to catch owners who don’t pick up dog mess is to be discussed at a Kettering Council meeting next week.
A pilot scheme to test the DNA of dog fouls has already begun in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham, with dog owners encouraged to register their dogs voluntarily.
Should the pilot be successful, Barking and Dagenham Council plans to introduce a public space protection order (PSPO) to make DNA testing mandatory with council tenants forced to have their pets undergo the tests under the terms of their tenancy agreement.
Now the potential to bring the scheme to Kettering is to be discussed at a research and development committee meeting next Tuesday (February 16).
The report reads: “Unmanaged dog fouling is not only a nuisance and an anti-social issue but it can also be responsible for the spread of harmful diseases, including toxicariasis, which can cause permanent vision loss.
“Kettering Council recognises that the vast majority of dog owners and walkers are responsible and pick up when their dog fouls.
“Indeed it is acknowledged that it is the few that break the law, and it is for this reason that the authority’s resources continue to be targeted at these individuals who are irresponsible.
“Over the past year, significant efforts have been made in establishing very good and real relationships with the dog walking community.
“Kettering Council have implemented a new initiative that includes the wardens taking their own dogs out with them on patrol, engaging with other dog owners and obtaining vital information and intelligence on names and descriptions of dog owners and times of walks of irresponsible dog owners.
“The team has then targeted the alleged offenders specifically.”
Initial DNA profiling of a dog would cost about £25, while DNA testing of dog foul would cost about £30.
A further DNA match costs a further £70, the total cost being £125, with laboratory testing believed to be 99.9 per cent accurate.
However, the potential for such a scheme has received just one public comment of support so far.
The report adds: “In order to determine the public support for such a scheme, a wider consultation process would be required, possibly through an agreed PSPO process.
“To date the authority has received only one comment from the public in favour of a similar scheme.
“The impact of such an initiative is likely to be controversial and initiate some negative response.
“Firstly the feeling of being scrutinised covertly by the authority, will send a message of suspicion and potentially jeopardise the good working relationships that Kettering Council is continuing to develop with the dog owners and dog walking community.
“Secondly, the cost of such a scheme for the public (registration costs) and the local authority (testing and verification costs) could add additional burdens to already stretched budgets.
“It has to be noted that the offenders who are being targeted are unlikely to register.
“It may also be perceived that the wider dog owning public are being penalised for the offences of the few.”