Yes, there is an Italian province using dog DNA to punish dog owners who let their pets poop on the streets! Bolzano, situated in Italy's northern regions, has taken that bold step towards environmental hygiene, surprising its citizens. An initiative that has sparked conversation and controversy in equal measure.
This article explains what is going on and tells you how much the fine to be paid by the humans can cost.
Bolzano's New Regulation
The new regulation instructs dog owners to submit their pets for DNA tests, the results of which will be stored in a significant database. The database, expected to house the genetic information of approximately 45,000 dogs in the province, is part of a broader objective.
The city wants to identify pet owners who fail to clean up after their pets, and administer fines to negligent owners, ranging from € 292 to € 1,048 – something around $ 315 to $ 1.130 nowadays –, but according to reports in the Italian press, by the end of December 2023, only 5,000 dogs had undergone the DNA test at a veterinary clinic.
The implementation of this strategy has been met with a fair amount of skepticism, spearheaded by responsible dog owners who consistently clean up after their pets.
The Controversies Surrounding The Initiative
Some controversies need to be highlighted when it comes to Bolzano's new regulation, such as:
- the additional cost burden of €65 for the DNA test;
- the complex and expensive maintenance of this initiative; and
- the identification and management of strays and dogs owned by
Animal associations and the province's veterinary association strongly opposed the scheme, citing high management costs and the inability to genuinely resolve the issue.
Madeleine Rohrer, a representative of the local Greens party, voiced concerns about the added expense for both the municipality and the police department. In contrast, provincial councilor Arnold Schuler assured that the database development is ongoing and additional vets have been enlisted to facilitate the DNA tests.
Hefty penalties await dog owners who fail to register their pets by the end of March, as stated by Paolo Zambotto, director of Bolzano's veterinary department. Schuler added that the database would also aid in identifying dogs involved in road accidents or instances of animal or human attacks.
Despite criticism, Schuler mentioned that several other Italian regions are considering similar initiatives. A similar proposal surfaced in the French town of Béziers last year.