Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
A well-balanced dog walker on Sderot Chen in Tel Aviv, October 30, 2019.

The Tel Aviv-Yafo City Council this week approved an amendment to a municipal bylaw requiring dog owners to provide a DNA sample from their pooch when renewing their municipal dog license.

As part of the municipal enforcement efforts, city inspectors will then be able to test samples of unscooped dog droppings and match them with the DNA samples on the city’s database. The dog owner will then receive a fine in the mail, as well as charges for the sampling and testing costs.


According to Tel Aviv municipal data, approximately 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of dog waste are not picked up by dog owners each month.

The Interior Ministry is in the process of assessing the amendment to the bylaw, before confirmation. It’s safe to say that anyone who has stepped in dog DNA would happily sign the blessed amendment – and since Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is a resident of Tel Aviv, it may all come down to whether the Yamina minister has experienced walking into the results of someone else’s blatant lack of responsibility.

Woman walking her pooch on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, April 21, 2020. / Miriam Alster/Flash90

The website PooPrints offers DNA services to municipalities who battle the less enjoyable end of their dogs, and suggests there are 5 steps to success:

DNA Test – a gentle cheek swab collects the DNA sample.

Registration – each dog’s genetic profile is registered and uploaded securely to the DNA World Pet Registry database.

Collect – use the PooPrints Waste Sample Collection Kit to collect a nickel-sized sample.

Return – return the sample in its resealable container to BioPet Laboratories for PooPrints sample processing.

Match – the unique genetic profile is generated and matched to the offending canine.

Located in Knoxville, TN, the service invites professionals from area municipalities to get a quote on the cost of forensic pooper-scooping. In Tel Aviv the estimates I’ve heard run around NIS 700 ($215) per test, not including the costs of submitting Man’s best friend’s DNA swab, which run around NIS 200 ($60) – all of it to be paid by the best friend’s Man (or his wife).

The Tel Aviv municipality’s press release argued that the ratio of Tel Aviv-Yafo residents to dog owners is among the highest worldwide, with over 40,000 households that have a dog, or one dog owner for every 11 residents. This does not include cats, who are so much more responsible when it comes to hygiene.

So we looked it up and found that the top country in dog ownership is the United States of America, with 69,929,000 dog owners. That’s 19 out of every 100 Americans, or one dog lover for every five Americans (74,059,000 Americans own cats).

The second nation in terms of dog ownership is China, with 27,400,000 dog lovers (and a stunning 53,100,000 cat owners). And I know what you’re thinking – some of those may be raised by restaurant owners – and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Still, Tel Aviv is apparently recognized among the world’s most dog-friendly cities, and the municipality continues to offer free dog waste bags in public areas. There are dozens of dog parks throughout the city, and city inspectors hand out fines to dog owners who fail to pick up after their best friends.

Maintaining cleanliness in public spaces is an integral part of the appearance of the city, and the municipality hopes that its latest decision will persuade all owners to collect their dogs’ waste. The municipality believes that a combination of information campaigns, enforcement, and public cooperation is key to improving the quality of life in urban areas.

And millions of cats continue to wonder, why can’t they just go in their litter boxes?


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