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French town to register dog DNA to cut mess left on streets

The Local France
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French town to register dog DNA to cut mess left on streets
A sign informing passers-by to clean up after their pets in Les-Lilas (Photo credit: Emma Pearson)

Pet owners in southern France will have to start cleaning up after their dogs, if they want to avoid being singled out and fined via one city's experimental new dog DNA database

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The city of Béziers in the south of France has taken aim against dog mess on the streets - by announcing plans to create a dog DNA database that will help local authorities to single out wrongdoers and fine them.

Mayor of Béziers Robert Ménard has announced that dog owners will need to provide something akin to a health pass - proof of genetic identification - if they want to walk their pets on the downtown streets of Béziers, particularly those nearby to the Allée Paul-Riquet.

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"I am fed up with all this dog mess. The state has said and done nothing - we need to penalise people so that they behave properly", the mayor told France Bleu on Sunday.

The city of Béziers has announced that all dog owners will be invited to come take a saliva sample free of charge, or to do so with their own veterinarian. Once completed, the pet owners will be given a 'passport' to be allowed to walk their dogs in streets listed in the local ordinance.

Dog owners who fail to get the 'passport' but attempt to walk their pets in the listed areas (found here) will risk fines of up to €38.

Dog mess found on the street will be collected and DNA tested at a local laboratory - the details will be sent to police who will consult the pet registers and match it to a specific owner who will face a fine of €122, Ménard said.

READ MORE: What is the law on dangerous dogs in France?

Ménard told France Bleu that the city's cleaning service picks up over 1,000 dog droppings a month. 

The mayor added that tourists and those who do not normally live in Béziers ought to be treated with some leniency.

The decree was passed on May 12th, and it allocated an annual budget of €80,000 in the 'fight against canine mess'. The mayor explained that the current iteration of the plan is an experimental phase, which is set to remain in effect until 2025. 

Local authorities in Valencia, Spain have also tested out creating a genetic record for local dogs in order to fine delinquent owners who fail to clean up after them.

According to France Bleu, the plan saw a 90 percent reduction in dog mess on public streets.

The Béziers mayor himself has also been fighting the crusade against dog mess for several years. He started in 2016, attempting to create a registry of the city's dogs to be able to penalise owners. However, the municipal decree was rejected by regional courts for being too intrusive. 

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What about the rest of France?

Rules regarding dog droppings are issued on a commune level in France, but most of the time fines for not picking up after pets are set to €35, though some can be up to €68.

The problem of dog mess on French sidewalks has been a longstanding issue. In 1982 former French president Jacques Chirac took aim at pet excrement, proposing to send teams around on motorised vehicles called 'motocrottes' to suck up the mess.

However, the initiative was eventually retired for being too expensive, as it apparently cost up to €15 million a year, according to Europe 1.

In Paris, the town attempted to an "anti-civility brigade" to crack down owners who failed to clean up after their pets, but the issue of animal waste on public sidewalks in the capital city remains a problem.

READ MORE: Reader question: What do I do if my pet goes missing in France?

Local inhabitants have also tried their hand at decreasing the poop on French streets. In 2013, three French students created a mobile phone phone app that would track places that have high volumes of left-behind droppings in order to push public authorities to respond.

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