Béziers, France: Anybody who has visited France’s beautiful old cities knows you must spend as much time looking where you step as you do admiring the sites, lest you trod in dog poop —- a walk you could call the ‘dog-crap-shuffle.’
The mayor of the southern French city of Béziers is fed up with dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets have relieved themselves on the city’s sidewalks. He announced on Friday he is calling on science to find and fine the culprits’ owners.
Robert Ménard, who already took measures against spitting in public and hanging laundry on balconies, said Friday he wants a DNA file on all dogs by October. Owners will have to take their canine to the veterinarian at their expense for a saliva sample. A laboratory in Bordeaux specialized in animal DNA, Animagène, has been contracted to analyze the DNA and create the data base. The dog’s masters will be issued a DNA identity card.
“I am fed up with this situation of seeing canine excrement on the sidewalks,” Ménard told the French daily Le Figaro. “This is not acceptable. I am not blaming the dogs but rather their masters.”
Ménard says that between 1000 and 1,500 dogs are concerned by the measure. All owners who do not have their dogs tested face a fine of 38 euros, or a little over $42. The master will also be fined 38 euros if he walks his dog without its DNA identity card. The measure takes effect in October.
Municipal police are charged with gathering samples of waste left on the sidewalk which will then be analyzed by Animagène and compared to the city’s dog-DNA records. The owner is then fined 450 euros or $505. Robert Ménard says the 50 thousand euro a year program will be economic. “As a comparison,” he said, “our two motorbike street-vacuums cost 70 thousand euros a year.”
Although Bézier is the first city in France to enact the dog DNA legislation, other cities in Europe have had “interesting results” Ménard says. “Notably, in Spain and Italy where some cities saw an 80% decrease in dog poop.”
Robert Ménard, who founded and headed the press rights group Reporters without Borders for 23 years, was elected mayor of Bézeirs in 2014 on a far right ticket supported by the National Front party. Ménard is better known today for his anti-immigrant rhetoric and refusal to have his city receive refugees from the Middle East.