Councillors in Edinburgh are hoping to use DNA analysis to catch selfish dog owners who refuse to pick up after their pets.

Edinburgh City Council is attempting to halt dog-owners of the estimated 13,000 canines from leaving mess behind by setting up “a dog DNA register for the city”.

The southern French town of Béziers required dog owners to carry their companion’s “genetic passport” in a pilot scheme to use DNA screening to catch those guilty of fouling.

Under the planned scheme, dog owners in Béziers will be required to take their pets to a vet for a free saliva sample, which will be genetically tested and a document issued.

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The trial proposes that those subsequently stopped without their dog’s genetic passport will be fined €38.

Dog mess found on the pavement will then be collected and tested, with the details sent to police who will consult the national pet registers and match it to a specific owner who will face a bill for street cleaning up to €122.

But an initial scheme to collect DNA from the estimated 1,500 dogs in Béziers was rejected by a local court as an attack on personal freedom.

Edinburgh City Council received around 1,288 complaints about dog fouling each year, according to data for the last three years.

The Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 makes it an offence for a person in charge of a dog not to clear away the mess, handing councils the power to issue fixed penalty notices of £80 to offenders.

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But statistics for 2021 shows that only four fixed penalty fines were issued by the city council, with Tory councillor Cowdy who has tabled a motion for action, warning this shows “the difficulties prosecuting under the current regime even though it only requires the evidence of one witness to justify a fine for dog fouling”.

Councillors have agreed that “options to help combat dog fouling” will be drawn up next year, that includes “the use of fixed penalty notices”.

But officials will also be asked to investigate “the practicalities of establishing a dog DNA register for the city, how it could be enforced, likely costs to set up and run, and how much might be funded through issuance of fines”.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Christopher Cowdy said the strategy used previously by the council to stop dog fouling “hasn’t seemed to work”.

The Conservative councillor acknowledged it could take a couple of years for the database to get up and running but claimed the capital could be the “vanguard for combating the national problem”.

He said: “I suppose I thought about a dog DNA test as being the only real way you can make out for definite whose dog did what.

“The general idea I’m thinking of is there would be an Edinburgh by-law that would require dog owners to register their dogs with the city council who would hold a database.

“You would be obliged to bring your dog, a DNA swab would be picked up from the dog and recorded on the database, and then if there could be a team of wardens searching for dog foul they would pick it up, take a test from it and hopefully track it down.”

Mr Cowdy said council officials confirmed to him the idea was “practically feasible”.

He said: “There are obviously issues that most responsible dog owners pick up after their dog anyway and irresponsible dog owners might not be inclined to register their dog in the first place.”

But he added it was a “big problem” that had to be addressed.

Labour convener of the city council’s transport and environment committee, Scott Arthur, told The Herald he is supportive of the proposal.

He said: "I know many responsible dog owners who are furious about the behaviour of a small minority of other owners.

“I am happy to work with them using all possible options to address the problem."