Dogs face DNA test as French town bids to trace street mess culprits

The two-year trial is taking place in Béziers near Narbonne

A woman picking up her dog’s mess on a street
Those who do not clean up after their dogs could be fined
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DNA tests for dogs are being introduced in a drive to find the culprits behind mess left on the streets of a French town.

Robert Ménard, mayor of Béziers near Narbonne, says the amount of mess is ruining the town centre.

“I can't take it anymore with all this poop," said the mayor. "We've done a count. We collect over a thousand every month, in the centre alone. We have to penalise people so that they behave properly."

Locals will now be required to have a ‘genetic passport’ for their dog, with fines for those who cannot produce the document. If found guilty of not cleaning up after their dogs, the fine will more than triple to €122.

Proposal not challenged

This is not the first time the mayor has attempted to implement such an idea.

In 2016, a similar scheme was proposed by Mr Ménard, but it was challenged by the courts in Montpellier, which shut down the project.

They claimed it was too intrusive on pet owners because it required a ‘DNA database’ of dogs in the area.

This time, however, the decree passed the two-month consultation period without being challenged, meaning the trial could begin.

Similar schemes have been implemented or touted in other European countries, including Spain and the UK.

But this is the first time it has been introduced in France.

Read also: Dordogne town gets tougher on dog waste with police help

DNA used to catch poopers

The two-year trial – set to run until July 2025 – will see all pet owners from the area need to show a ‘genetic passport’ when in Béziers centre.

Those who do not have proof of this could be fined €38.

The DNA database of the pets in the city will be compiled, and any uncleaned dog mess in the city will be assessed to see if there is a genetic match with a dog on the database.

If there is, the owner could be fined up to €122 for not cleaning up their pet’s mess.

Béziers says the tests would be free and the samples used to create the database.

Mr Ménard said there would be “leniency” for those outside of Béziers, who will not need to provide the genetic passport if they can prove they do not live in the area.

The mayor said that the main problem came not from tourists or visitors but “those from Béziers itself”.

The mayor said his dog will be amongst the first to sign up for the scheme, to help set an example to other citizens.

Residents in agreement over scheme

For the first three months of the trial, town officials will not fine people but remind them about getting the genetic passport and cleaning up their animal’s mess.

After this time, however, the fines can – and according to the mayor will – be implemented.

“It's a good initiative, but we're going a long way for a human education problem,” said a resident interviewed by France Bleu.

“It's a shame to [fine people], but it's the only thing that works in France. It's worth a try,” said another.

“It could give other town hall ideas. We needed the political courage to do it,” said Jean-Luc, another resident.

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