Israeli City Devises Innovative way to Motivate People to Clean up After Their Dogs

As a dog lover and a frequent pedestrian, I am troubled by people who don't clean up after their dogs. Like everyone, I don't enjoy...

As a dog lover and a frequent pedestrian, I am troubled by people who don’t clean up after their dogs. Like everyone, I don’t enjoy stepping in dog feces. And, because I love dogs, I worry that dog feces on sidewalks will give ammunition to the dog haters of the world. Picking up dog poop is no fun, but it is part of having a dog.

I was therefore interested by a blurb that appeared in the November, 2008 issue of Veterinary Economics.

Fighting smelly streets with DNA. Almost everyone knows the cringe-worthy feel of stepping on a pile of fresh dog poop. Well, residents of Petah Tikva, Israel, can walk more freely through the streets now that city officials are using science to address the issue–and potentially saving a few pairs of shoes in the process.

The city has launched a six-month trial program that asks residents to take their dogs to a veterinarian, who swabs the pooch’s mouth to collect DNA. The DNA is then used in a database aimed at matching feces to dog and identifying each dog’s owner. Owners who pick up their dog’s droppings and deposit them in specially marked bins will be eligible for rewards of pet food coupons and dog toys. Droppings left in the street could earn the dog’s owner a municipal fine. The city will consider requiring DNA samples from all dogs if the trial run is successful. So far, residents are responding positively to the program–and enjoying the clean streets.

The program sounds expensive, and I certainly don’t envy the people who have to retrieve samples from the “specially marked bins”. But this is definitely an original solution to the problem of pet droppings in the street.

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