Here, Doggy DNA Is Key to a 'Poo Crackdown'

Bolzano province in Italy setting up database to nail pooches pooping in public, with a fine for owners
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2024 10:00 AM CST
Here, Doggy DNA Is Key to a 'Poo Crackdown'
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Wavetop)

An Italian province is sick of this crap, and it's not going to take it anymore. A database is being set up in Bolzano, in the northern part of the country, to register DNA info from the region's 40,000 or so dogs, so that when they poop in public, government officials will be able to track the dog who did the deed and fine its owner, reports Reuters. Starting at the end of March, dog owners there will be mandated to take their pets to veterinarians or animal shelters for a blood test, from which the dog's DNA will be extracted. "Bolzano receives a few hundred complaints a year from citizens about improper management of public land," says Paolo Zambotto, who runs the region's veterinary department. "More than half are for dogs."

Around 10,000 dogs have already been registered with the database. Owners who don't clean up after their dogs do their business and are caught will see penalties ranging from about $55 to $540. Those who refuse to allow their pooches to have a DNA profile created in the first place will see an even steeper fine—anywhere from around $320 up to $1,140. The Guardian notes that the "poo crackdown" has been one mired in controversy, especially since dog owners are on the hook for paying for the initial test (cost: anywhere from $70 to $110). Dog owners who are careful to always scoop the poop don't get any kind of break, either.

Other critics say it will be harder than it looks to manage the project, especially when it comes to strays or dogs visiting with tourists. "It is easier said than done," one politician tells local media. "It will only be an additional expense for the municipality and for the police, who have many other things to do." Arnold Schuler, a council member in the province, is pushing back at detractors, noting that vets have been recruited to help administer the DNA tests, and that the evidence can also be used to ID dead dogs and those who've attacked people. (More dogs stories.)

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