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While there are fines and measures preventing pet owners from leaving dog poop on a path, many ignore the law because of the successful implementation of these measures.
A recent survey by Dogs Trust found that 69% of respondents say they frequently witness dog walkers failing to clean up after their dog. 57% say that dog fouling is a major problem in their area.
Some city and county councils have been criticized in the past for their low number of sentences and the lack of enforcement of dog litter laws, but one local authority goes a step further.
Leitrim County Council plans to introduce DNA testing to identify dog owners who fail to ingest dog litter on streets, parks, trails, and housing developments.
Are you wondering how it will work? Dog owners are asked to work with the guard to get a saliva sample from their dog. When the Leitrim zookeeper samples dog litter in areas of high dog fouling, they can use that DNA to match the feces with saliva samples from dogs in the same area.
Dog owners who do not comply with and do not provide the saliva sample will receive a legal notification in accordance with the Animal Health and Animal Welfare Act, which forces the owner to allow a sample to be taken from their dog. Failure to follow this notice and a sample not be taken will result in a fine or criminal prosecution.
If dog owners allow the zookeeper to voluntarily take samples that are later matched against faeces that have not been removed, they will not be fined for a first-time crime as an added incentive. A fine can be imposed for later violations.
Section 22 of the Litter Pollution Act 1997 requires dog owners to clean up after their dog if they commit fouls in public places: for example, on public roads and paths, housing developments, and recreation areas.
Owners who fail to do so are guilty of a crime and can be fined if their dog’s litter is not removed. A € 150 fine can be imposed on site if your dog is not cleaned up in a public place. If convicted by the district court, a fine of up to € 3,000 can be imposed.
Dog waste poses a health risk as it can contain deadly bacteria. It has been estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which are known to cause convulsions, diarrhea, bowel disease, and severe kidney disease in humans.