One council’s plot to catch dog owners who don’t pick up.
One council’s plot to catch dog owners who don’t pick up.

Dog poo DNA test to catch lazy owners

Moreland Council is considering introducing DNA testing dog poo to track owners who don't clean up after their furry friends.

The proposal, coming up at Wednesday night's council meeting, will look at the feasibility of developing a dog DNA register and testing canine faeces for DNA to catch lazy owners.

Under Victorian law all dogs over the age of 3-months have to be registered, so it is proposed a database can be started by voluntarily collecting DNA from saliva swabs as part of the registration program.

The proposal said: "Open Space officers can use the registry to identify irresponsible dog owners via a DNA sample from the dog poo left in public place, kerbside and parks being testing in a laboratory."

"DNA evidence may be able to assist Council to issue infringements to irresponsible owners and recover the costs."

However, the biggest issue the council has to overcome is only one company undertakes DNA testing on dog excrement and they are based in the USA.

Taking into consideration the number of new dog registrations per year in Moreland, and officer time to collect and administer samples, it is estimated the cost of maintaining the DNA database would be "well over $100,000" per year.

Dog owners are encouraged to pick up after their pet at the park.
Dog owners are encouraged to pick up after their pet at the park.

Other obstacles identified in the proposal include dogs living outside the area that visit Moreland would not be accounted for, the USA based testing agency would have to attend court if fines were contested, and quarantine laws around sending biological materials to the USA for testing.

Council resources would also be stretched, with the proposal suggesting officers would be required to attend each sample registration of each new dog and attend the collection of dog poo samples to maintain the program's integrity.

Moreland councillor and former mayor Oscar Yildiz said although innovative, the idea was unrealistic as more than 100,000 dogs lived in the area.

"The beauty of our local government is you can have your debates," Cr Yildiz said.

"Its an innovative idea but on this one I think it's extraordinarily unrealistic.

"I own a dog myself, I love dogs. But when they do defecate on our sporting grounds and in our parks - everyone knows it's a problem.

"(But) being a schoolteacher I'm more in favour of education, and I think we should invest more money in educating the public on cleaning up after their dogs."

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A report will be prepared which will consider strengthening local laws to help facilitate the program, which could be tested in one part of Moreland.

PooPrints, the program which was developed in 2009 by USA company BioPet Laboratories, is currently used in five countries, including the USA, UK and Canada.

Dog owners can be fined under local law if they do not pick up after their dog.

james.mottershead@news.com.au