Montpellier: Dog owners in a southern French town are having to get their pets DNA tested under new rules to tackle the scourge of poop-strewn pavements.
The mayor of Beziers has introduced the mandatory tests, meaning street cleaners will be able to take samples from droppings they find in the centre of the town to identify the owners.
Those responsible for failing to pick up their animals’ poo will be forced to pay a 120-euros ($135) cleaning fee.
“I’m outraged that some people never clean up after their animals,” mayor Robert Menard told local radio France Bleu at the weekend. “We did a count: the town picked up 1,000 (dog poop) just in the centre. That’s not right.
“We thought that if we put police officers on the street it would have an effect, but when there’s a police officer, people clean up. It’s when there’s no one around that they don’t crouch down and do their civic duty,” he added.
Menard, who is an independent with close links to the far right, has been seeking to introduce dog DNA testing since 2016, but has had previous efforts knocked back by the state on legal grounds.
The new rules have been introduced on an experimental basis for the next two years.
Dog owners in the centre of Beziers, a renowned bull-fighting town, will need to prove they have done a DNA test, with police authorised to issue 38-euro fines to anyone failing to produce an identity document.
The 120-euro cleaning up fees will not be enforced for three months, with Menard promising that there will be a soft launch.
“People who don’t clean up after their dogs couldn’t give a damn about anyone,” Menard added. “Sometimes I hear people say, ‘It’s up to municipal workers to clean up after my dog.’ They’ll see now. It’s going to cost 120 euros.”
DNA testing for dogs - usually done at the vets with a saliva sample - has been introduced in a host of cities worldwide including Tel Aviv in Israel, Valencia in Spain and some areas of London.
Landlords in some private residential compounds in Florida and elsewhere have also introduced rules requiring residents to provide DNA samples of their animals to identify pavement foulers.
The mayor’s office in Beziers said cleaning up dog faeces cost the municipality of 75,000 people around 80,000 euros per year.