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You Don't Clean Up Your Dog's Poop? DNA Could Trace It Back To You

In one German town, like in several places around the world, the mayor wants to take action against those who don't clean up their dog's "business." But Germany's data protection laws mean the initiative will be difficult to implement.

White wooden window frame showing a sign forbidding dog poop

"This is not a dog's toilet."

Kristian Frigelj

WEILERSWIST — Stepping in a pile of dog excrement is bad enough. But for city workers, the ick factor is often even higher. The droppings spray when public lawns are being mowed, stain clothing and equipment, and sometimes end up in employees' faces. Despite the increased use of bag dispensers and campaigns, almost all cities and municipalities continue to face the reality that certain resident dog owners are too lazy to pick up and dispose of their four-legged friends' "business."

In Weilerswist, a German municipality near Cologne, Mayor Anna-Katharina Horst wants to implement a measure that is DNA file for dogs. Horst wants the city to send all owners an invitation to take a DNA sample of their four-legged friend. In addition, a sample is to be taken with the registration of each new dog.

Legal issues

The investigation would work like this: municipal employees collect samples from the illegal droppings on site and send them to a laboratory. The result is compared with the DNA database. If there is a match, the record is sent to the Weilerswist municipality. For data protection reasons, one thing is very important to Mayor Horst: the data record is assigned to the person who owns the dog only in the municipality.

In Barakaldo, Spain, fines of up to €3,000 are even possible in particularly serious cases.

The cost of a onetime reference sample for DNA determination is estimated at 20 to 25 euros. A follow-up sample costs about 35 to 40 euros, according to similar trials in foreign cities already using the system. Who should cover the costs in Weilerswist — the municipality or the dog owner — would have to be decided by the municipal council, as well as the amount of the fine for convicted dog owners.

Mayor Horst first made the idea public a year ago. One year later, it is clear that the project cannot be implemented easily for legal reasons because many issues could only be clarified by way of a case-by-case review by courts. Data protection concerns have also been raised because such a DNA file would make dog owners identifiable.

Anne Horst\u200b, Mayor of Weilerswist, Germany.

Anne Horst, Mayor of Weilerswist, Germany.


Similar trials around Europe

Mayor Horst, on the other hand, cannot understand these concerns and wonders why this is not possible in Germany, but is possible abroad. After all, such procedures already exist in some municipalities in France, Italy and Spain. In Barakaldo, Spain, according to media reports, fines of up to €3,000 are even possible in particularly serious cases.

The southern French municipality of Béziers launched a two-year pilot project this month. Dogs in the city area are to be given a "genetic passport." A saliva sample from the dog is to be given to the vet free of charge.

The mayor of Béziers, Robert Ménard, complains that more than 1,000 dog turds have to be removed every month in the city center alone. According to media reports, he refers to the extremely positive experience of the Spanish city of Valencia. There, the drastic measure have reduced the number of leftover piles by about 90%.

In Germany, campaigns to be more considerate are still the main approach. In the Hessian city of Offenbach am Main, for example, the city's public order department and public utility company have been sending someone in the costume of a life-size dog on dog walking routes since May of this year.

The mayor of Weilerwist, however, continues to advocate for DNA files.

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Milei Elected: Argentina Bets It All On "Anything Is Better Than This"

The radical libertarian Javier Milei confounded the polls to decisively win the second round of Argentina's presidential elections; now he must win over a nation that has voiced its disgust with the country's brand of politics as usual.

Photo of Javier Milei standing in front of his supporters

Javier Milei at a campaign rally

Eduardo van der Kooy


BUENOS AIRES — Two very clear messages were delivered by Argentine society with its second-round election of the libertarian politician Javier Milei as its next president.

The first was to say it was putting a definitive end to the Kirchner era, which began in 2003 with the presidency of the late Néstor Kirchner and lasted, in different forms, until last night.

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The second was to choose the possibility, if nothing else, of a future that allows Argentina to emerge from its longstanding state of prostration. It's a complicated bet, because the election of the candidate of Libertad Avanza (Liberty Advances) is so radical and may entail changes to the political system so big as to defy predictions right now.

This latter is the bigger of the two key consequences of the election, but the voters turning their back on the government of Cristina and Alberto Fernández and its putative successor, (the Economy minister) Sergio Massa, also carries historical significance. They could not have said a clearer No to that entrenched political clan. So much so that they decided to trust instead a man who emerged in 2021 as a member of parliament, with a weak party structure behind him and a territorial base no bigger than three mayors in the Argentine hinterland.

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