It’s not hard to see why plenty of towns and cities have laws on the books requiring people to clean up after their dogs when taking them for a walk. The moment of realizing that you’ve stepped in something gross — or even the smells that dog waste can summon up in the summertime — are why it makes sense for everyone to carry a couple of plastic bags with them when taking their pup around the block.
But this variation on the social contract runs into one limitation — namely, what happens when one person decides that they don’t have to clean up after their dog. The question then becomes how far people are willing to go to stop this kind of annoyance, which is what seemingly has led the municipal government of the French town of Béziers to implement a plan that’s more CSI than Paw Patrol. (Or, if you prefer, more “panopticon” than “dog park.”)
The town is assembling a database of canine DNA to identify precisely which dog owners aren’t cleaning up after their pets. Under the plan, dog owners would be fined for not having a “genetic passport” for their dog when out walking them, and would also be charged for the cleanup of dog poop if said fecal matter was traced back to their dog. And if you think that’s a bit extreme, well, you might be on to something.
Writing at The Guardian, Kim Willsher has more details on the plan — and the controversial politician who’s behind it. That would be the town’s mayor, Robert Ménard, a self-described authoritarian who has also endorsed a conspiracy theory associated with the political far right.
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The Guardian cited an interview Ménard gave to French radio in which he spoke of the town government having to clean up in excess of 1,000 “messes” in a month and said, “We need to penalise people so that they behave properly.” It’s understandable to be frustrated about dog poop left outdoors, to be sure — but going all 1984 on his townspeople like this is probably a few steps too far.
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