The dog days are over: DNA analysis for mess

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A 'pioneering' dog DNA register has resulted in a dramatic reduction of dog mess in three London parks.

According to Barking and Dagenham Council, a sample count has shown the amount of dog faeces has halved in the Abbey, Barking and Mayesbrook parks.

The scheme involves dog owners registering their animals with PooPrints, who specialize in animal DNA.

Officers from Barking and Dagenham's environmental team, as well as park rangers, then carry out "proactive patrols" to collect samples of faeces, which are sent for analysis.

If PooPrints finds a match with a registered dog, the council says owners "receive an advisory note warning of future enforcement activity."

In January, when the scheme was launched, officers counted "up to 35 dog poos in just one hour," the council said. That number had fallen to just 17 in the latest analysis.

"It's still early days but it looks like our drive to encourage considerate dog ownership is having success," Darren Rodwell, council leader, said in a statement on the council's website.

"But it looks as though there are a hard core of inconsiderate dog owners out there who haven't got the message yet that it's unacceptable not to pick up after your pet," Rodwell added.

As well as being an unsightly mess in parks and on streets, animal faeces is a serious health risk. Toxocariasis is an infection spread from animals such as dogs and cats to humans via "contact with infected faeces," according to the National Health Service (NHS).

The NHS says it can cause serious problems such as seizures, blurred vision and skin rashes.

While the scheme is not compulsory at the moment, Rodwell said the council was looking to introduce "some sort of enforceable action later in the year."