‘Vet detectives’ could be brought in to trace owners who allow their dogs to foul in public places.
Council bosses in Lancashire are in discussions with a forensic vet over plans to DNA-test dog faeces which could then be traced back to the canine culprits and their owners.
The scheme has been used effectively in some European countries and the USA and is seen as a possible option to help tackle the growing problem of dog-fouling in the south Lancashire borough of Hyndburn.
Last year Hyndburn council voted to call on the Government to increase the maximum fixed penalty notices for dog fouling from £75 to £1,000.
Councillor Ken Moss, who proposed the scheme, said he was then contacted by the vet after reading about the story but insisted talks are still at an ‘early stage’. If given the go-ahead, it would be one of the first schemes of its kind in the country.
Cllr Moss, who is chairman of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, said: 'I am led to believe there are only two of these vets in Britain and they work by analysing the samples and identifying the dog by DNA.
'It’s something that has been used in tourism hot spots on the continent and is something they are looking to get a foot-hold of here in England.
Green and pleasant land: The scheme has already been rolled out on the continent to preserve the beauty of favourite tourist spots
'I will be talking to the vet to find out how feasible that will be. I don’t know what it would cost. It would probably rely on some database and we would need to find out if it is feasible.
'It might be that it’s unrealistic and cost too much or rely too much on voluntary information from the public.
'We have only had preliminary talks and nothing has been signed and sealed.'
Similar schemes in the USA and Germany have relied on a DNA database with either fur or saliva samples being taken from dogs in a local area. Any dog faeces found in public places are then tested and cross-checked against the DNA database to identify the offenders.
Harvey Locke, former president of the British Veterinary Association and a practising vet, said current UK legislation would make it difficult to introduce a dog DNA database.
Bag it, bin it or take it home: Hyndburn council wants to be able to fine dog-owners who let their dogs foul in public places up to £1,000
He said: “It is possible to identify dogs from a faeces sample but you need to have a database with all the dogs in the area to identify a particular dog.
'It sounds fine in principle but there are questions about where the database would be held and who would fund it.
'If somebody has seen a dog fouling and wants to report a particular dog you would need to take a sample and that would require the owner’s consent. I am not aware of any legal framework that would allow this to happen.'
The proposals are the latest in a series of measures being taken by the council to help tackle the amount of dog mess littering the streets.
PCSOs are being urged to issue dog fouling fines and extra dog warden patrols have been arranged.
A Cabinet Action Day was also held in December in the nearby picturesque village of Rishton, during which thousands of dog waste bags were handed out around the village.
Source: Daily Mail