The Kennel Club has expressed its concerns about Thanet District Council’s consideration of making dog DNA registration compulsory as a means of tackling dog fouling in the area.
Thanet District Council launched a three month dog DNA pilot registration scheme last weekend, with the aim to build up a DNA database of dogs in the area, which includes the towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. The council has stated that the pilot will help the council assess ‘the extent of irresponsible dog ownership in Thanet and provide evidence for a review of how enforcement action can be most effective’.
The Kennel Club is aware that one of the options being considered by the council is to make the registration of dog DNA compulsory, and has expressed a number of concerns regarding how this would work as a single method of controlling anti-social dog behaviour.
The Kennel Club has questioned how the local authority would plan to enforce such a registration scheme properly with only one enforcement officer, as is currently the case. What safeguards would be in place for dog owners who may rely on other people to walk their dogs and who would be subject to a fine as a result of fouling – the dog owner or the person in charge of the dog at the time? Further, what would happen if faeces found was left by a dog owner whose dog’s DNA was not registered? It is also unclear what steps visitors to the area would need to take if they were in Thanet with their dogs but did not live there.
Other questions include what steps would be taken to ensure people register their correct address and update details? What measures would be in place to stop people sharing or passing on the tags which show they are DNA registered or copying them? Would exemptions be in place for those physically unable to pick up after their dog due to a disability? What considerations have been given to data protection and does the database comply with ISO standards?
The Kennel Club feels that until these questions can be addressed, the idea of DNA registration as the sole method of tackling dog fouling cannot be seen as a suitable scheme for Thanet to undertake.
Furthermore, the Kennel Club is aware of a situation in which DNA registration was trialled by a different local authority, but only two identifications of dog fouling resulted, and only 2 per cent of the local dog owning population registered. This lack of take up and positive identification resulted in the local authority shelving its plan to enforce compulsory DNA registration as a Public Spaces Protection Order.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “Although we appreciate all the work that Thanet are undertaking in helping dog owners, we do have serious concerns about any potential move to make DNA registration compulsory for dog owners in the area. The Kennel Club is very much in favour of targeted measures to deal with irresponsible dog owners but believes that DNA registration should only be used as part of a wider solution to tackling irresponsible dog owners.
“We are pleased to be working with the council who are looking into various means of tackling the issue of dog fouling in the area and will continue to assist them with this. We fear however that compulsory DNA registration may not be a reasonable and proportionate response to this problem and would encourage the use of other, more cost effective methods of targeting irresponsible dog owners rather than the entire dog owning population of Thanet and visitors to the area.
“We would urge anyone with concerns about the council’s proposals to join KC Dog, the Kennel Club’s dog owners group, to keep up-to-date with future developments.”