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Dog DNA scheme under consideration

The Council is exploring the idea of DNA tests for dogs on the Isles of Scilly.

Lead Member for Children Joel Williams said that consideration of the possibility is "on the radar" to tackle ongoing dog mess issues on the islands.

In his Update ahead of April 11th's Full Council meeting, he said he has met with Senior Environmental Health Officer Mike Coates to discuss potential options for addressing the problem, which include the possibility of a DNA scheme.

The process involves a swab being inserted in the mouth of dogs that live in a local area, which is then used to extract a sample of DNA. Dogs who have been swabbed can wear a token on their collar or lead to indicate they are part of the scheme. Samples of dog mess can then be analysed and linked back a local DNA database.

Cllr Williams wrote: "Areas that have launched similar schemes claim to have seen a 50% reduction in the amount of dog mess left... There are cost implications associated with swabbing each dog, although one swab would last the lifetime of a dog.

"Learning lessons from other areas who have adopted a similar scheme will be of great use. Ironically, one of these areas is Barking and Dagenham who have information available on their website that may be of interest to Members. Our senior EHO will report further to members on this matter."

The DNA idea was widely ridiculed on social media when it was first proposed by Cllr Andrew Combes in 2016, but Cllr Steve Sims said the technology has moved on.

He told This is Scilly News: “I discussed this with Mike, our EHO, and Andrew Combes a couple of years ago and it didn't quite stack up at that point but DNA testing is very fast moving technology and is getting cheaper all the time. The principle issues are finance and can it be made compulsory? Otherwise all the good guys will sign on and the miscreants won't, which isn't helpful.

"It's still a voluntary registration in Barking where they trialing the system but their results are encouraging. So as an Authority we should re-examine DNA testing.”

The Council is currently advertising for a part-time dog warden who would be employed throughout the year.


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