Edinburgh Council poo poo £100k dog fouling scheme - after city named worst in UK

The couple took in the husband's parents' dogs - and it caused issues in the community
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Edinburgh city council has ruled out a £100k scheme to catch fouling dogs' owners - which would involve shipping poo to America to catalogue the pet's DNA. The dog DNA idea was suggested after Edinburgh was last year named the worst place in the UK for dog fouling.

The city council considered using the only dog DNA database in the UK, known as PooPrints, but concluded it would not be cost-effective. Transport and environment convener Scott Arthur said: "A fine for dog folding must be issued within seven days.

"PooPrints is based in Knoxville, Tennessee, so we would have to post the poo to America - and I'm not even sure about the legalities of that - at the cost of £100 per sample for testing and then hope that we got the result within seven days in order to issued an £80 fine." Councils currently have no powers to require people to register their dogs - leading to questions about whether the owners would even be able to be found.

Cllr Arthur said only people who had registered their dog's DNA on the system could be identified. "And the people who allow their dog to foul all over the place are not the kind of people who are going to register their dog for their DNA - and it costs £50 to do so."

A report to the council's transport and environment committee on June 20 estimates using PooPrints for dog DNA sampling would cost around £100,000 and adds that it does not "appear practicable" to do so. Instead, the report says: "Currently, the most effective means of tackling dog fouling at source is through the street enforcement team and targeted communications campaigns.

"For example, a small scale dog fouling campaign in a targeted area such as Leith Links would cost in the region of £800." Street enforcement officers - the council staff who police the dog fouling problem - can only issue fines if they witness the offence or get a statement from someone else who witnessed it.

The report also floats the possibility of "plain clothes patrols" to catch irresponsible dog-owners. The council has to get approval under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act for such "under cover" operations.

One official said: "There's not many people who would let their dog foul in front of a very clearly uniformed officer." But the report notes: "Previous patrols carried out in plain clothes did not produce a significant increase in fixed penalty notices."

Cllr Arthur said: "Dog fouling is absolutely unacceptable. It's a minority of dog-owners that give all dog-owners a bad name where this is concerned and often it's responsible dog-owners who get most upset by the problem. "It's right that we looked at the DNA suggestion, but it's just not viable at this point in time. We need to reassure the public the council is working with existing powers and resources to tackle the problem.

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