Israeli city uses DNA to fight dog poop

PETAH TIKVA, Israel Tue Sep 16, 2008 2:33pm EDT

1 of 2. Dr. Tika Bar-On, the chief veterinarian of the city of Petah Tikva, takes a spit sample from a dog at the veterinary clinic in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv September 10, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Gil Cohen Magen

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PETAH TIKVA, Israel (Reuters) - An Israeli city is using DNA analysis of dog droppings to reward and punish pet owners.

Under a six-month trial program launched this week, the city of Petah Tikva, a suburb of Tel Aviv, is asking dog owners to take their animal to a municipal veterinarian, who then swabs its mouth and collects DNA.

The city will use the DNA database it is building to match feces to a registered dog and identify its owner.

Owners who scoop up their dogs' droppings and place them in specially marked bins on Petah Tikva's streets will be eligible for rewards of pet food coupons and dog toys.

But droppings found underfoot in the street and matched through the DNA database to a registered pet could earn its owner a municipal fine.

"My goal is to get the residents involved, and tell them that together, we can make our environment clean," said Tika Bar-On, the city's chief veterinarian who came up with the idea for the DNA experiment.

Bar-On said the DNA database could also help veterinarians research genetic diseases in dogs, investigate canine pedigree and identify stray animals, replacing the need for electronic chip identification.

"The sky is the limit on how far we can take this," she said.

So far, Bar-On said, residents have "reacted positively to the program and are cooperating because they want their neighborhood to be clean".

She said Petah Tikva would consider making it mandatory for pet owners to provide DNA samples from their dogs if the trial program is successful.

(Editing by Robert Hart)

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