Leitrim County Council intends to introduce DNA testing to identify dog owners who neglect to pick up dog waste deposited by their pets on streets, parks, walking trails and housing estates. The Leitrim Animal Warden will take samples of dog waste in areas with high levels of dog fouling and using DNA, match the samples with saliva samples taken from dogs in the same area.
Dog owners will be asked to co-operate with the warden in allowing a sample of saliva to be taken from their dog. Dog owners who fail to comply will be issued with a statutory notice under the Animal Health & Welfare Act which compels the owner to allow a saliva sample to be taken from their dog. Failure to comply with this notice, in not allowing a sample to be taken, will result in a fine or prosecution. Dog owners who allow the Animal Warden to take voluntary samples, and where a DNA match is confirmed, will not be issued with a fine for a first-time offence, however a fine may be issued for subsequent offences.
Section 22 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997 states that dog owners have to clean up after their dog if it fouls in public places: for example, public roads and footpaths, housing estates and recreational areas.
Owners who fail to do this are guilty of an offence and can be fined if their dogs waste is not cleaned up. An on the spot fine of €150 can be issued for not cleaning up after your dog a public place, with a maximum fine of up to €3,000 if convicted in the District Court.
In addition to dog waste being unsightly, it also poses a risk to health as it can contain bacteria such as E-coli and parasites such as round worm, the larvae of which can cause loss of vision. It has been estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million faecal coliform bacteria, which are known to cause cramps, diarrhoea, intestinal illness, and serious kidney disorders in humans.
Research carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes for Dogs Trust revealed that 69% of people surveyed claim they often witness dog walkers not cleaning up after their dog, with 57% indicating that dog fouling is a big issue in their area. Leitrim County Council aims to tackle this issue and remind people to be more mindful of vulnerable members in their community who are more at risk of coming into contact with dog waste and putting their health at risk. Of those surveyed, 64% claimed to have walked in it in a park, 31% have rolled a buggy through it and 11% have rolled their wheelchair through it.
Leitrim County Council request dog owners to be kind to their community and to always pick up after your dog. Recent research highlights how big the issue dog fouling is, and we want to reinforce the message that this is solely a human problem and not a dog one. Please think of the vulnerable members of your community such as wheelchair users, visually impaired people, babies and toddlers, those who use buggies and prams, as well as people playing sports. Whether you own a dog or not, dog waste in public spaces affects everyone so please……… Bag It, Bin It !