Dog DNA tests: putrid dog poo strews the world’s streets. Does Tel Aviv have the answer?


Name: Dog DNA.

Age: Dogs were first domesticated between 14,000 and 29,000 years ago.

Appearance: A double helix of poopy evidence.

What on earth does that mean? Let me ask you a question. What would you do if you set foot outside your front door and immediately stepped into a steaming great pile of dog poo?

I’d go back in and clean my shoes. Right, but then what?

I don’t know, scrape up the poo? No, you’d take a swab of the offending excrement, then rush it to a laboratory to extract the DNA. Then you would cross-reference the results with a spreadsheet of all the dogs in the vicinity of your house in order to track down the precise pooch and punish the owner.

I wouldn’t. What an absurd thing to do. Tell that to Tel Aviv.

Why? The city plans to enshrine this process in law. It is now compulsory to register canine pets on a DNA database, so municipal inspectors can collect samples from any dog faeces left on the street, locate owners and fine them.

This seems very elaborate. Yes, but Tel Aviv is a dog-dense city. One in 11 residents owns one, and it is estimated that 500kg of dog mess is left at the roadside every month. If the city has to start acting like an ordure-obsessed Batman to clean up the streets, so be it.

Is dog poo really that much of a problem? Oh yes. And if the scheme is successful, it might replace the current ragtag collection of anti-poo measures seen in the rest of the world.

Like what? Well, Knutsford town council recently introduced a PooperSnooper app, allowing residents to report dog poo. That may help to clean up the streets, but lacks the stinging retribution of the Tel Aviv plan.

Any more? Two years ago, a Warwickshire community group started to leave empty ketchup bottles filled with poo bags in locations afflicted by high levels of doggy doo.

That’s ridiculous. And then there’s West Dunbartonshire council, which decided to spray-paint every dog poo it found bright pink.

Why pink? I don’t know. Pink is prettier, maybe? Anyway, clean up after your dog, you animal.

Do say: “What a smart idea to match a dog’s poo DNA to its owner.”

Don’t say: “Finally, something to get me on board with mass surveillance.”