Three Catalan municipalities plan to test dog droppings with the aim to locate and fine owners who fail to clear up after their pet!
Albert Batalla, Mayor of Lleida since 2008, made it clear right from the day he was sworn into office to do something about the “antisocial behavior of people who do not pick after their pets on the street.” Since then the town has put in motion a plan to identify these wrongdoers by extracting DNA from excrement left on the street, identify the dog and fining the owner €300. This will be done with a technology commercialized by a company founded by 11 scientists at the Barcelona Autonoma University (UAB). “There are residential communities in the U.S. where, before renting out an apartment to someone with a pet, they force the owner to provide genetic information on the animal,” explains Óscar Ramírez of Vetgenomics, “If excrement shows up somewhere, it is identified and the owner gets sanctioned. Incidents have been reduced 100%,” they say.
The firm has already sold the idea to Sitges and Parets. The principality of Andorra has also shown interest.
“The way it works is simple,” explained Ramírez. “The owner takes the dog to the vet, who extracts a blood sample, seals it and sends it to Vetgenomics, which then creates a genomic database.” Then, when a municipal worker comes across a dog dropping on the street, he send it to the lab for comparison. The initial sample costs €25 and each analysis €35. The fines range from €300-€600, depending on the town.
Jordi Mas, the local chief of sustainability of the municipality of Sitges plans to subsidize the blood sample for the 1,200 dogs on the register, implementing the system by 2017. The municipality has put aside €15,000 for this plan.
But what about unlisted animals? “We are encouraging adoption of the system by many municipalities and the sharing of a common database,” Mas explains. According to Mas, only when all dogs in Catalonia are registered with DNA samples in the system will the streets finally befree of feces.
Source: Alfonso L. Congostrina, El País. English Version: Susan Urra
Featured Photo Credit: mataroradio.cat