Monday, June 25, 2007

Australian City Gathers DNA Evidence Against Delinquent Dogs

(AP) Crime scene investigation is going to the dogs. Animal control officers in one southern Australian city are being trained and equipped to gather DNA clues at the scene of every dog attack on a human or pet, officials said Sunday.

The Port Phillip city council announced that the officers will receive swabs, gloves and other equipment to collect evidence from fur, saliva, blood and excrement so they can track down dangerous animals and their owners.

"We have to make sure that if we have to do something like put an animal down or prosecute, we're sure" of the canine culprit's identity, Councilor Janet Cribbes said.

A Pomeranian was being walked on a leash when it was mauled to death by two dogs in Port Phillip in 2004. DNA taken from fur and feces positively identified the offenders, which were destroyed. A magistrate fined the dogs' registered owner $7,244 for failing to control them, in what the council calls the first Australian use of dog DNA to prosecute an owner.

Council officials said the new kits will make the collection of DNA routine at dog-related incidents in Port Phillip, which is part of Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city.

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