The war on dog poo: Spanish town turns to DNA testing

The central Spanish city of Guadalajara is working on a unique plan to crack down on pet owners who don't pick up poo.

The war on dog poo: Spanish town turns to DNA testing
Photo: Indi Samarajiva / Flickr Creative Commons.

Guadalajara city hall is working to create a database of dogs' DNA in the city so officials can identify and punish the owners who don't pick up after their pets, the city announced on Monday.

Apparently pet poop negligence is a major problem in the city of less than 85,000. 

“This measure will increase the vigilance on the streets in order to prevent dog-owners from leaving their pets' feaces in the public roads,” the city hall wrote in a statement.

“This situation is one of the number one complaints voiced throughout the year.”

Currently police are only able to fine pet-owners if they catch them in the act of leaving excrement behind and the city reports that even though officers try to investigate cases, “it is very difficult to detect these infractions”.

To create the database, the city will start asking dog owners, potentially this year, to provide officials with a sample of their canines' saliva or fur.

Using the database, officers will be able to take samples of dog droppings and then have a lab analyze the faecal findings to determine which pooch plopped the poop.

If the lab finds a match within the database, the dog's owner will face a fine of up to €250 as well as the costs of processing the sample.

“We hope that these measures will improve the health, hygiene and aesthetics of our city,” said environmental councillor Francisco Úbeda at a presentation of the plan on Monday.

The database plan also means that all police officers will be asked to be on the lookout for poop perpetrators, not just officers in environmental departments. 

“The local police will become… a key element in the promotion of civic behaviours that will result in a more healthy and secure city,” the city wrote.

But the database won't only be used to penalize perpetual poo-droppers. It will also be used to investigate cases of animal abuse.

The plan also calls for dogs to be properly restrained and ways to check on potentially dangerous dogs.

Various other Spanish towns have put forth similar plans for dog-poo DNA testing in recent years, including the Catalan city of Tarragona, Huelva in Andalusia and Málaga.

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Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.