Leitrim County Council has said it is going to bring in DNA testing of dog poo to help identify offenders who fail to pick up their dog waste on streets and in parks, walking trails and housing estates.

Samples of dog waste in areas with high levels of dog fouling will be taken by the Leitrim animal warden and these will then be matched with saliva samples taken from dogs in the same area.

The local authority says that dog owners will be asked to co-operate with the warden in allowing a sample of saliva to be taken from their dog but owners who fail to comply will be issued with a Statutory Notice under the Animal Health and Welfare Act which compels the owner to allow a saliva sample to be taken from their dog.

Dog owners who allow the animal warden to take voluntary samples will not be issued with a fine for a first-time offence, according to the council, however a fine may be issued for subsequent offences.

A spokesperson for Leitrim County Council said they believe they are the first local authority to introduce this initiative to tackle a problem which they say is not only unsightly, but which also poses a risk to human health given that dog poo can contain bacteria such as E-coli and parasites like round worm.

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The Litter Pollution Act 1997 obliges dog owners to pick up their dog's poo in public places and those who do not, can be issued with an on the spot fine of €150 with a maximum fine of up to €3,000 if convicted in the District Court.

Leitrim County Council is calling on dog owners "to be kind to their community and to always pick up after your dog"and says it wants to reinforce the message that this is solely a human problem and not a dog one and people should think of vulnerable members of their community such as wheelchair users, visually impaired people, babies and toddlers, those who use buggies and prams, as well as people playing sports.

"Bag it and Bin it" is the message.