Today we use our global communications technology to share images of what we’re eating for lunch with the world … and we use forensic genetics to catch dogs who poop on sidewalks. According to the New York Times, Naples, Italy is instituting a DNA-based fining program:
The idea is that every dog in the city will be given a blood test for DNA profiling in order to create a database of dogs and owners. When an offending pile is discovered, it will be scraped up and subjected to DNA testing. If a match is made in the database, the owner will face a fine of up to 500 euros, or about $685.
Naples, Italy isn’t the first or the only city to turn a powerful crime-solving tool from murders to canine misbehavior. The idea has been around for almost a decade, and Naples is simply one of the most recent cities to take up the forensic approach to canine waste management.
Here in the U.S., for instance, a condo complex in Braintree, Massachusetts implemented the system late last year, charging dog owners $59.95 for the initial DNA testing to get their dog added to the database and $150 in fine and testing fee to offenders.
The efforts have been largely successful. A resident of the condo complex told NBC News “You can walk where you want, the grass is now ours again, we don’t have to worry about it, and that’s just a great thing.”
You can get a sense of how deeply a technology has penetrated society by looking at the most seemingly trivial problem it’s being used to solve. It’s hard to imagine better evidence of how pervasive modern genetics-based forensics has become.