The Italian Almanac

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Poo Test

A Piedmont town is gearing up to wage war against dog owners who fail to pick up after their pet through the use of excrement DNA tests. Vercelli environment councillor Antonio Prencipe plans to carry out saliva tests on all of the town's dogs in order to create a canine DNA data base, which will then be used to identify the four-legged 'offenders' who leave mess on streets and in public parks.

Samples of excrement will be sent to a special laboratory in Milan to determine the DNA of the dog it belongs to at a cost of 13 euros per test, Prencipe said. Negligent owners will then be slapped with fines. ''I receive constant complaints about dirtiness, and if signs and requests aren't enough we'll try with genetics. I want a clean city,'' Prencipe said. The councillor added that he would be prepared to volunteer to take the excrement samples himself ''if it will mean being able to walk on streets and pavements free from poo''.

This is not the first time an Italian town has considered DNA warfare on dog's mess - the city councils of Bologna and Massa Carrara also toyed with the idea two years ago. Dog's mess testing is already used in Dresden and Cologne in Germany and in Tel Aviv in Israel.