PUBLIC HEALTH

Malaga introduces DNA profiling for dogs

Move, first of its kind by a major Spanish city, aims principally to reduce fouling of pavements

In recent years, Spanish cities have seen a huge increase in dog numbers.
In recent years, Spanish cities have seen a huge increase in dog numbers.PACO PUENTES

The results of the DNA profile, which will cost around €35, will be added to data already compiled about the animal on the municipal registry’s microchip. Dog owners found not to have complied with the DNA register will face a fine of between €110 and €130. “The idea isn’t to fine people for the sake of it, but so that the measure works properly, which means that there has to be an element of sanction involved,” said Raúl Jiménez, the head of Malaga City Hall’s environment department.

The plan is not to scour the city’s streets for dog excrement. Instead, the city’s animal and bird collection service will collect any stools it finds as it goes about the course of its work, which will then be sent for analysis at a cost of €18 and checked against the DNA registry.

The new measures will also forbid displaying animals in shop windows

Malaga is the first large city in Spain to create a canine DNA register, based on initiatives such as that in Xátiva, in Valencia.

“We know that this brings about a drastic drop in canine excrement in the street,” says Jiménez.

Owners will now have six months to visit a veterinary surgeon who will take a blood sample from their dog and send it to a laboratory that in turn will create a genetic profile with some 19 indicators. Owners will then receive a card and a tag for their dog.

Some €200,000 has been set aside to cover the cost of the measures in the case of owners being unable to pay, which will be coordinated through the social services department. Dogs being kept in refuges will not be subject to the new measure until an owner has been found for them. Guide and security dogs will also be exempt.

The scheme is the result of 18 months of planning, with animal protection associations, vets and breeders all being consulted. The new measures will forbid the use of “punishment” collars as well as the display of animals in shop windows

Dog owners who fail to comply will face a fine of between €110 and €130

Malaga City Hall, which is controlled by the Popular Party with the support of Ciudadanos, has also recently agreed to encourage people to adopt abandoned dogs by assuming the costs involved: vaccination, sterilization, microchip, and now, DNA profiling. The aim is to end the need to have unwanted dogs put down. In 2016, 1,473 dogs were handed over to the local authorities, 1,047 by their owners, and 426 of which were found roaming. Last year, 547 dogs were put down in Malaga city, a 14% drop on 2015. There has been a 50% drop in the number of dogs being put down since 2011.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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