The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, has welcomed a decision by Thanet District Council to abandon controversial plans to make dog DNA registration compulsory as a means of tackling dog fouling in the area.
The Kennel Club had expressed serious concerns about the proposal when the council launched a three month dog DNA pilot registration scheme at the beginning of July, which aimed to build up a DNA database of dogs in the area, which includes the towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. The council stated at the time that the pilot would 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 saw the proposed scheme as a tax on responsible dog owners, as the irresponsible minority would continue to flout the law, and had concerns about how such a scheme would work and be enforced as a single method of controlling anti-social dog behaviour.
Among other concerns, the Kennel Club believes such a registration scheme would fail or cause public outcry if safeguards are not put 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, as it raises the question of who would be fined – the dog owner or the person in charge of the dog at the time.
Furthermore, the proposals included what would happen if faeces found was left by a dog owner whose dog’s DNA was not registered, what steps visitors to the area would need to take if they were in Thanet with their dogs but did not live there, 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, passing on or copying the tags which show the dog is DNA registered, whether or not exemptions would 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 whether or not the database would comply with ISO standards.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “We very much support the council’s decision not to roll out such a scheme permanently and we firmly believe this is the right decision.
“The Kennel Club is firmly in favour of targeted measures to deal with irresponsible dog owners but simply does not believe that a DNA registration scheme would be effective. In our view all it would do is penalise responsible dog owners in the area and make things difficult for law-abiding citizens.
“We would like to continue working with the council and are happy to continue to assist them in finding other, more cost effective methods of targeting irresponsible dog owners.”
The Kennel Club runs a campaign group, KC Dog, which aims to protect the rights of dog owners and ensure that any decisions made that might affect where they may or may not walk their dogs is fair and proportionate. Read more information about our campaign: access for owners and dogs.