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Government Biotech The Almighty Buck Idle

More Cities Use DNA To Catch Dog Owners Who Don't Pick Up Waste 177

dkatana writes: For many cities one of the biggest cleaning expenses is dealing with dog poop. While it is impossible to ask the birds to refrain from splattering the city, dogs have owners and those owners are responsible for disposing of their companion's waste. The few who shirk their duty create serious problems for the rest. Poop is not just a smelly inconvenience. It's unsanitary, extra work for cleaning crews, and in the words of one Spanish mayor, on a par with vandalism. Cities have tried everything from awareness campaigns with motorized poo videos, to publishing offenders names to mailing the waste back to the dog owner. In one case, after a 147 deliveries, dog waste incidents in the town dropped 70 percent. Those campaigns have had limited effect and after an initial decline in incidents, people go back to their old ways. Which has left many cities resorting to science and DNA identification of waste. Several European cities, including Naples and one borough in London, are building DNA registries of pets. Offending waste will then be tested and the cost of the analysis charged to the dog owner, along with a fine.
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More Cities Use DNA To Catch Dog Owners Who Don't Pick Up Waste

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  • In the US, it's a lot harder to clean up all the trash that people throw on the ground.
    • Maybe it depends on where you're at in the U.S. My perception is locally here in Michigan, litter are not nearly as bad as it was in the 60-70s. However, I was in Brooklyn last year & was shocked at the trash everywhere. There were garbage cans, lots of garbage cans everywhere. Go figure.

      In London it wasn't great either but I never saw a litter can anywhere. I assume because of the years of anti-terrorism as cans make a good place to put explosives.

      • One thing Michigan has going for it is the 10 cent deposit on carbonated beverage containers (soda, sparkling water, etc). Yes it's a cost up front, but you never see cans with a deposit on the ground. Someone is always scouring the roadsides looking for cans to get a little extra money. Heck, I supported my childhood candy habit by collecting cans that was (construction sites were always a goldmine). In contrast when I go to other states without can deposit laws (like Wisconsin) I see cans everywhere.
        • Completely agree. Deposit law passed in 1980 (or so I think) & the very next day after it was live, everything was cleaner. Not just the cans & bottles, people seem less likely to toss other stuff when things are clean.
        • In NYC, in the late 1950s, a small soda bottle had a 2-cent deposit and a large soda bottle had a 5-cent deposit. In 2015, all soda bottles have 5-cent deposit. Think about the inflation from 1950s to 2015 and wrap your head around the fact that it basically did not touch bottle (and can) deposits. The streets here always have broken glass because slobs just toss their empty beer and wine bottles. The roads are cleaned regularly by the city sanitation department but the sidewalks are not; each apartment
          • 10 cents seems to be the threshold. There are a few states that have the 5 cent deposit (NY and you mentioned) and it doesn't seem to work there. I guess people don't care about a nickle but dimes are serious business. Lord knows what they'd do for a quarter.
        • One thing Michigan has going for it is the 10 cent deposit on carbonated beverage containers

          According to an otherwise pro-deposit bottle bill FAQ [bottlebill.org], deposit laws like this require people to return empty containers in the same state in which the beverage was purchased. This discriminates against people in a state temporarily, who may buy a beverage in one state, drive across state lines, and finish consuming it in a different state.

    • Beyond the singling out of dogs (cats anyone? hmmm?), poster is correct in that there are certainly far more pressing cleanup needs before going to these lengths. Are they going to start using DNA to figure out who dropped the gum? candy wrappers? used tires?

      • Have you never been around a cat? Cats don't ever leave their poop out in the open, unless they're senile. It's instinctive for them to bury it. It pisses off some people with gardens (they'll bury their poop in the garden because the soil is loose), but you never have to worry about stepping on cat turds on sidewalks or in the lawn.

  • by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @12:37AM (#50399989)

    Employ individuals to clean up the waste and pay for it by requiring yearly dog tag renewal which includes the "poo pickup" tax. Owners don't need to worry anymore, it creates jobs, and it's paid for by the people who create the problem.

    • I don't let my dog poop elsewhere. Don't make this my problem.

      • It is your problem because there's shit everywhere. It may not be from your dog but it's likely going to end up under your foot. Kinda like saying "I shit at home so don't make paying for sewers my problem"

        • If the reason it is his problem is because there is shit everywhere, then it is his problem regardless of if he even owns a dog. In which case, why limit the tax to dog owners?
          • it is his problem regardless of if he even owns a dog. In which case, why limit the tax to dog owners?

            Tax the people who cause the problem for others in order to encourage them to stop causing the problem for others. It's the same reason tobacco is taxed, as cigar and cigarette smoke causes medical problems for others. It's also the same reason motor fuel is taxed, as tailpipe emissions cause medical problems for cyclists and EV drivers, and road wear causes unevenness problems for cyclists and EV drivers.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Coren22 ( 1625475 )

              as cigar and cigarette smoke causes medical problems for others

              So, now that indoor smoking is prohibited, we should stop all the tobacco taxes, right?

              All second hand smoking studies were done on people who worked in places where people smoked, not walked past a guy smoking in a smoking hut. When you can prove any harm from the whiff of smoke you get walking by a smoker, then you can complain, until then, go f yourself.

              • Increased health insurance premiums also cause problems for others, especially if a nationwide health care law forbids insurers to deny coverage for preexisting emphysema or preexisting nicotine dependence, and especially if the law includes a subsidy for people with an income in or near poverty to buy insurance.

    • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @12:59AM (#50400041) Homepage
      Then you're telling people it's OK to let their dogs shit everywhere. That's a bad idea. Moreover, the dogshit cleaners will be AWOL most of the time (government workers, you know) so there will STILL be dogshit on the streets all the time. Costs will go up every year, and the people who actually clean up after their dogs will be the ones who suffer the most.
      • by dwywit ( 1109409 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @04:29AM (#50400671)

        Well, what about allowing a credit for people who do the right thing and pick up after their pets?

        After they pick up the poo, they mail it into the relevant authority (along with a photo of the act, and a close-up of the dogs' ID tags/barcodes/whatever), and said authority issues them a credit against the cost of the poo-pickup-tax.

        I mean, who wouldn't want to mail some poo to a govt. department?

        • by Dins ( 2538550 )
          I wonder if we could genetically engineer dogs to poop barcoded turds.
        • Better idea. It's not a credit against the license but rather a check sent to the submitter of the dog shit. This way non-owners can clean up other people's shit and get paid for it. Require the shit to be sent via the post-office.

      • Then you're telling people it's OK to let their dogs shit everywhere. [snip] Costs will go up every year, and the people who actually clean up after their dogs will be the ones who suffer the most.

        You're not telling them it's OK, you're telling them that the more they let their dogs shit everywhere the more they're going to have to pay in tax every year. Want to pay a lower dog tag bill? Pick up after them otherwise, be prepared to pay for your pets shit.

    • There is already an annual dog tax here, which can be up to 128 euro (140 USD) per for one dog, or up to 331 euro (375 USD) per year if you have two dogs, depending on the city where you live. But the ticket for even walking your dog without carrying cleanup bags is 140 euro (158 USD). So we do both...
    • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @02:43AM (#50400391)

      That's like charging a "speeding tax" to everyone on the road and then letting people drive as fast as they want.

      It's a minority of the dog owners in most towns that don't pick up after their dogs. Charging everyone for a few shitheads violating the law is bad policy, no matter what the offense is.

    • Probably a lot cheaper as well.
    • I don't agree with this.

      Roughly 90% of owners clean up their dog's poo. Requiring the vast majority to pay for the actions of a minority will a) not incentivise the minority to change behaviour and b) punish people that are doing the right thing (e.g. why should I keep being tidy when I'm paying to be untidy).

      You'd get much the same effect putting the whole poo pickup tax onto general rates - lots of innocent people paying for the actions of the minority.

      I initially thought the idea of using DNA was crazy

      • Even with a big fine the cost of running a program like that would exceed a "poo pickup tax" easily. You've got the cost of the DNA test, someone to pick up the poo anyway for testing, mailing costs, fine collection, administration, etc. Doing it that way, everyone - including those without dogs, end up paying the very hefty price tag. Doing it as a yearly dog tag tax means you're targeting dog owners, you're eliminating all the costs of the DNA program except the employee picking up the poo, and the min

    • Or if you aren't responsible enough to pick up after your dog then you can't have a dog anymore. It wouldn't be for one or two offenses but for an ongoing problem. There's an owner in my neighbourhood that regularly lets their dog go on the sidewalk. And from the evidence remaining it is a very large dog. This has been going on for over a year now. I don't think this person is responsible enough to own a dog. It's not a matter of going out once or twice and forgetting to bring a bag. They are just le

  • So the owner of the cat that my dog ate yesterday will get the bill for cleaning up when it gets expelled tomorrow?
    • Cats will be exempt from all such fines. At least in LA. Cats can spread their filthy disease turds on your porch every day, and there's not a thing that you can do about it legally.
      • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @01:30AM (#50400135)

        The vast majority of cats bury their waste in unseen areas. The vast majority of dogs shit right on the fucking pathway.

        In either case the noses that should be rubbed into it is the owner's.

        • The vast majority of cats bury their waste in unseen areas. The vast majority of dogs shit right on the fucking pathway.

          Of course dogs do that. Do you know how pokey grass is?

        • by phayes ( 202222 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @04:17AM (#50400639) Homepage

          Sure they do, like in playground sandboxes where small children can be infected by toxoplasmosis. People in big cities who let their cats outside deserve to be taxed too.

        • Unfortunately the cats where we live bury it in the kids sandpit. Thanks.
            And, yes, the cat owning residents have been advised, and, no, nothing has happened.

          • by dwywit ( 1109409 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @04:38AM (#50400687)

            Foreign animal in your yard? Don't you have the right to "restrain" said animal, and call the local authority to retrieve it?

            When your neighbours have to start paying $X every time they let their animals stray, they'll soon do something about it.

            I had to restrain a neighbour's dog once for hassling my free-range hens. I didn't mistreat it, merely grabbed it by the collar, walked it to the neighbour's place, and advised the neighbour of my rights regarding animals on my property - said rights including shooting her dog if it was hassling, attacking, or even playfully chasing my chickens. She wasn't aware of the rules concerning domestic and farm animals in rural areas, and, to her credit, apologised and promised to never let it happen again. And it didn't.

            • by Zoxed ( 676559 )

              Sorry: should have clarified: the sandpit in question is in the shared area of the apartment block gardens so we can not stop the cats being there, but would like to stop them leaving anything behind !
              (We have an ultrasonic/movement detector type device covering our small, private area, and that seems to mostly work !)
              Also sounds like you have a good neighbour there !

          • We prevented that problem from the start by putting a lid on the sandbox.

            Yes, I know, we shouldn't have to do that. Cat owners shouldn't let their cats do that in our yard. How do you solve that though? Surveil your yard and then follow and identify any cat that ever comes by? Then go argue with each of those cat's owners? What do you do about stray cats? Catch them all yourself?

            It's far more practical to just put a lid on it and be done.

        • in my neighbourhood, those "unseen areas" tend to be my garden, where i grow my food. i keep my cats leashed when they're outside and i wish everyone else would have the same courtesy. there was a woman on the news earlier this summer complaining that whenever she let her cat out it came home with a patch of fur shaved off. she couldn't seem to wrap her head around the idea that this would stop happening if she stopped letting her cat roam free around town.

          • That's funny. Poor cat though.

            I never understood why people let their cats roam about. What's the point of having a cat if you kick it out of the house all day? I've had a number of cats in my life and they have never been outside (except in a carrier to go to the vet). They have been perfectly happy being indoors and a lot safer too.

  • Above is the poo pickup cost which punishes all owners - but seriously - you pay the cop to forensically get poo. then pay the lab to DNA type the poo, then Search for poo matches.

    Is that cheaper than just paying a few people to walk around and pick up garbage, clean up bird shit, scrape gum, and get rid of dog poo?

    • Re:Cost (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @01:08AM (#50400061) Homepage
      It's training people not to let their dogs shit everywhere. After a while, everyone will know that if you let your dog shit on the street, it's going to come right back to you with a fine attached. So why even let it happen? Believe it or not, there are people out there (solipsists) who are convinced the laws don't apply to them. They don't just scoff at laws, they take great joy in breaking them. These little "quality of life" laws sound like piddly shit but they do make a difference in a crowded city. Don't do it and you end up like San Francisco, which has a huge problem with shit lying in the streets. [sfgate.com] It stinks to high heaven and you can smell it from a mile away.
      • Re:Cost (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gavagai80 ( 1275204 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @01:25AM (#50400117) Homepage

        There's still going to be homeless people with dogs in SF, so you've still got to clean it up. The DNA fines may make the job more manageable though.

        Also, what about people who own horses? I see horse manure on the streets not infrequently, and it's a lot worse than dog.

        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

          If you are living in a very rural town, maybe (in which case, the town should deal with it, but it's SO far from a global problem - either a totally isolated issue or, in the Bay Area, likely an utter 1% first world problem). If you are saying horse manure is a problem in SF, well, I call horseshit on that...

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          Get the large box. If it fits, it ships.

          I said SHIPS!

          • We've got a neighbor who does this to us now, but we haven't identified the SOB yet. Twice now recently, on a Sunday or Monday morning, we walk out to a huge steaming pile on our lawn. When I found out who the slob is, I'd delivering it to his house via airmail.. all over the windows, walls, door, porch, etc..
            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              I think paper bags are probably the best delivery container. Set it on fire to make sure they see it, wouldn't want them to accidentally step in it :-)

        • by dmt0 ( 1295725 )
          In Canada all horses that you see on the streets belong to the Police. I'd say you should just pick that up and mail it over to the police departments!
      • It's training people not to let their dogs shit everywhere.

        Why not give them treats for good behavior and also have them spayed and neutered?

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      It's a hell of a lot cheaper to the government if they then fine the owner $500 to pay for it all. Plus, it creates another half dozen city jobs!

      Not exactly related, but I'm already thinking about the TV show pitches related to this... "CSI: Dogshit".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I say when they are caught, we rub the OWNER'S face in it. Sure, it won't solve the problem, but, my god, it would be satisfying to see.

    • Because it won't be fresh by that time.

  • I can't quite grok what form this might take, but whatever it might be, it surely needs to be a Kickstarter campaign.

  • Could this technology also be used for people who do not clean up their own feces, in parks and on streets?
    As there are already a few tens of cases of dogs who eat junk poo, and suffer from the traces of the drugs...
    • Your plan is to locate and fine the homeless based on DNA? Somehow I do not see that working well. Maybe long jail terms would work, but that removes the lack of a financial burden the fine is supposed to ensure.

      The most effective way cities deal with that problem is to harass the homeless enough that they leave for a more favorable area, frequently by police beatings or turning a blind eye to crime against them.

      Get some panhandling and vagrancy laws passed if you want to solve it, then make sure they are

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hate how people let them shit on grass meant for adults and children to walk/sit/play on (public green areas). Yeah, ok, you scoop it up and that totally removes it from the grass...

    Get a real pet who knows how to shit in nice places, like a cat.

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      Amen. Here besides people letting them shit on grass, they do not pick it up. Every fucking patch of green is like a minefield. It is not only gross, it also spreads parasites.
  • Shit happens (Score:4, Informative)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @01:48AM (#50400203) Homepage Journal

    Shit happens, deal with it.

    Cause if you don't, we'll use DNA analysis to find and fine you.

  • by rklrkl ( 554527 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @02:41AM (#50400377) Homepage

    I have a long grass verge by the side of the road and several dog owners have taken to dumping their dog poo bags on it, which is bewildering. Why make the effort to collect the dog poo in a small black plastic bag, only to illegally litter it right afterwards? It's an on-the-spot 80 pounds = $120 fine where I live, but unless I install CCTV and review the footage (and even then identifying them might be impossible), they're never going to get caught by the local council.

    Some scoundrel even *saved* 10 of their poo bags and then dumped them at various intervals along my verge. And, no, I'm not enemies with anyone local before anyone asks...

    • I have a long grass verge by the side of the road and several dog owners have taken to dumping their dog poo bags on it, which is bewildering. Why make the effort to collect the dog poo in a small black plastic bag, only to illegally litter it right afterwards? It's an on-the-spot 80 pounds = $120 fine where I live, but unless I install CCTV and review the footage (and even then identifying them might be impossible), they're never going to get caught by the local council.

      Some scoundrel even *saved* 10 of their poo bags and then dumped them at various intervals along my verge. And, no, I'm not enemies with anyone local before anyone asks...

      They leave it there indefinitely? I walk my dog on a route that only has trash bins at the beginning of the route. Since I walk back the same way I came, sometimes I'll pick up the poo and leave it out of the way so I don't have to carry it for another 3 miles. I put in a GPS reminder on my phone to grab it on the way back. Depending on how fast we walk, it may sit there for a solid 30 minutes before I pick it up. But like I said, I try to put it in an inconspicuous and out of the way location.

  • by rikkards ( 98006 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @05:32AM (#50400781) Journal

    I find people who leave the poo happens more when there is no garbage cans nearby. People are lazy and don't want to be carrying it. Here there is one stretch where you don't see a garbage for over a mile along a major road. Needless to say you will see at least 3 or 4 landmines along the way.

    • I'm sure improving convenience helps, but there are some people who can only be influenced by exorbitant fines. My town has not only trash cans but poo bags located like every quarter mile, so there's no reason for not cleaning up other than being a selfish jerk. There are people who don't clean up.
  • DNA tests are also time-consuming and forensic labs probably have more important things to do. That said, a DNA registry for pets could have many more important uses than figuring out who to mail the poo to (though I love the idea. Hope they label the package deceptively so people are fooled into opening it).

    I suppose that if a municipality has the money, lab time, and desire to do it then they're welcome to do so, but given the testing backlog US cities face I have serious doubts that the results coul

  • "extra work for cleaning crews" How is it 'extra'? Cleaning crews are supposed to be cleaning and here is something to clean. That's just work, not 'extra work.' Now if the citizens would rather pay for more cleaning rather than do it themselves, I supposed that is their option. Just watch your step.
    • Normal street cleaning basically involves sweeping up litter, leaves & dust with a brush (or using a mechanical equivalent of the same). If you do that with shit, you just spread (or throw) it around and you have a shitty brush afterwards.

      Better hope that's not the type of job you get when you grow up. Because you won't be very fucking good at it.

  • Sounds like it'd be pretty easy to frame someone whose trash is accessible (or uses a public bin). And it's not like there's much someone could offer in the way of defense.
  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Thursday August 27, 2015 @10:32AM (#50402049)
    Can we extend this technology to people who spit gum on the sidewalk or toss their cigarette butts on the ground?

    The only time i'm ever tempted by the idea of mass surveillance is when i think of the possibility of wreaking a little legal vengeance on all those people who fuck up public spaces for the rest of us because they're too lazy or sociopathic to bother handling their waste properly.
  • If an owner does not have a poop bag while walking their dog, offer them to buy a bag at $5 or a $50 fine.

    A dog owner without a poop bag (Empty or full) is one that will not pick up.

    Disclosure: I have many dogs and I carry # of dogs +1 poop bags on walks. I NEVER run out of bags.

  • Owning a pet is a privilege not a right, one that you are free to exercise as long as you don't harm/impact your fellow citizens. And we don't like stepping in nor picking up your poop.

    1. Increase the pet license fee to help defray the cost of "waste removal" from public property. Yes this puts more burden on the respectable pet owners, but they can help themselves by self-policing the bad pet owners in their community. Stop being polite and ignoring bad behavior when you see it - chew the offenders out.

    2.

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