City councils world-wide are watching as municipal workers in the Israeli city of Petach Tikva are DNA-testing dog droppings in order to identify and fine irresponsible pet owners. Update in 2021: the pilot project has come to life in Tel Aviv.
Under a six-month trial program residents are being asked to voluntarily bring their dogs into a city veterinarian who will take a saliva sample from the dogs to gather DNA. The sample will be sent to a lab in order to assemble a database of dog DNA. The registry will enable the municipality to identify dog feces left on sidewalks. Workers will just bag a sample of the offending material when they find it underfoot, mail it into the lab for identification, and a fine will be sent on to the dog’s registered owner.
But, the program comes with benefits for the animals’ caretakers as well. Coupons for pet food and toys will be distributed to the owners of registered dogs whose feces isn’t found on Petach Tikva sidewalks. The city’s chief veterinarian, Tika Bar-On, came up with the idea for the experiment and says her “goal is to get the residents involved, and tell them that together, we can make our environment clean.”
Bar-On told reporters she hopes the canine DNA registry will further research on canine genetic diseases, aid in identifying pedigrees and help identify stray pooches. That last part means dog owners wouldn’t need to put electronic tags in their dogs if the program were to become widespread.
If the program works, it could spread rapidly – and submitting a doggie DNA sample could become mandatory in many municipalities. Australia’s largest DNA testing company, Genetic Technologies, has already submitted proposals to implement the scheme in several cities Down Under and several Sydney council-members have already spoken out in favor of the idea. Cities in America and Europe are likely to see similar registries should the Israeli and Australian programs prove effective.
Read all about the un-green aspects of doogie do:
Clean Up After Fido