back to article Doggy DNA database adopted by Gloucestershire cops to bring crims to heel

Gloucestershire Constabulary has announced it is the first police force in the world to use a centralised doggy DNA database to clamp down on pet theft - but it's relying entirely on a commercial provider for both the tech and the database. Dubbed DNA Protected, the programme sees pooch parents taking mouth swab samples from …

  1. MutantAlgorithm

    Bonus

    As a bonus it might help catch the buggers who don't pick up after their furry friends!

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Bonus

      That's already been done locally... Where there's a dog fouling problem, they go and collect samples. it helps to have a Cellmark lab in the vicinity (although bless the poor lab techs who get to have to do DNA sampling in stinky dog poo).

  2. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

    Or where do I opt out to have my dogs' DNA not sold to anyone?

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

      From the article: It's an alternative to microchipping...

      No it isn't; microchipping is a legal requirement. Having your dog's DNA on record might well be a useful (if expensive) enhancement but it cannot be considered an alternative.

    2. ShadowSystems

      Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

      Unfortunately, no. The chip reader isn't that expensive & can be bought commercially by anyone, so a dog snatching crim could scan a dog, find the chip, & remove it or reprogram it as desired. There's _some_ chance of the altered chip getting discovered & acted upon in a way that gets the crims hopefully picked up for the crime of dog theft, but there's _zero_ chance of it happening if they simply remove it entirely. Even worse is that there are shady vetrinarians out there that will remove the previous chip & swap it for a new one, no questions asked for the right price. =-|

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

        Chip readers are cheap, it's like £21 on Amazon.

      2. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

        remove it

        I thought it was quite impossible to do :~

        reprogram it

        How do you reprogram a RFID tag? I would be curious to know.

        1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

          Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

          There have been a couple of recent examples of dogs being dumped in remote areas with horrendous id tag removal wounds.

          Perhaps we should have a system where the dog's DNA and relevant info is logged on a central database by law. Any purchaser of a dog would pay to enter or modify an entry on the database and would automatically gain read access to information about their dog (breeder, age, id tag, ownership etc) and it would cost the state little or nothing as the cost would be bourne by the dog owners.We could call it a "Digital Dog Licence". As people are paying £1500 for a mongrel sold by a bloke with a transit in a Sainsbury's car park, £150 for a licence seems a small amount to pay.

          1. tip pc Silver badge

            Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

            what happens if i don't pay for the DDL?

            1. ShadowSystems

              Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

              At Tip PC, if you don't pay for the DDL then we reformat your dog & install Windows 10 instead. Have fun with your Barking Screens Of Dog. =-)p

          2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

            As you point out - removal of the chip is not easy for a trained veterinary surgeon; they're small and hard to locate, and they're almost never at the place they were injected (usually the collar/shoulder area) since they have a tendency to migrate in the body.

            Where local regulations require that pets must be locally chipped irrespective of anything already there, it is common simply to inject a second chip. Which gives the designers of chip readers a certain amount of headache...

            The chips used for domestic pets are almost always programmed at the factory and aren't reprogrammable; they contain no data other than the programmed serial number. In five years working with the chips I never came across one which could be reprogrammed (though they are certainly available - particularly as discrete chips but not as injectable pet IDs).

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

              "removal of the chip is not easy for a trained veterinary surgeon;"

              Not true. That's just the excuse they give because they don't like knocking out critters (always a risk!) for what they see as completely useless and trivial surgery.

              "they're small and hard to locate,"

              Small, yes. Hard to locate? Not so much. The reader locates the general area (it's like a metal detector), and then Xray from a couple angles to pinpoint it.

              "and they're almost never at the place they were injected"

              Immaterial (see above). VERY rarely they will migrate deep into muscles, but a Vet who understands anatomy (hopefully all of them, but who knows these days ...) can dig them out with minimal trauma even in those cases.

              1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

                I just saw a bit on Quora about a cat which IIRC went for unsuccessful physiotherapy, X-Ray and... CAT scan?... for a limp that turned out to be its ID microchip worked into leg muscle. I think the chip was rather trickily but successfully removed, and with more physiotherapy, the cat's fine.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Aren't Pet Microchips enough?

          " thought it was quite impossible to do"

          It's not impossible, nor is it difficult (for a Vet ... don't try it at home!). Normally, you can actually feel the thing under the skin. A local anesthetic, a quick nick & grab, and you're done. If you can't feel it, first take a couple Xrays to pinpoint it, then it's usually a simple incision and you can pick it out. My small animal Vet has done it a couple of times after a divorce ... one party gets custody of the pet, but the chip is registered to the other who refuses to cooperate.

          There are cases where the chip has migrated deeper, which requires more in-depth surgery and is obviously more of a risk, but still quite doable and not usually life threatening. Your Vet will be happy to discuss the ins and outs with you.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheap at the price

    Some time ago, I was bought a DNA kit, as an option in family history, at about the same price as the animal DNA scheme. At least the animal scheme does have a practical application. In the four years or so since the genealogical application, it has, so far only turned up one connection, that of my Great Grandfather's illegitimate daughter by his, at that time, mistress. Which has long been documented by other means.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheap at the price

      Eh, a friend turned up her father's illegitimate son. Oooops. Hello, new half-brother!

  4. Spoobistle

    He's not your father!

    I look forward to the inevitable celeb pet paternity cases!

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: He's not your father!

      On Jerry Springer-Spaniel's show?

      1. ShadowSystems

        Re: He's not your father!

        At Dr_N... Enjoy a pint while I groan in anguish over that excrutiatingly bad pun. Well done!

        *Slides a pint over & clubs you senseless with a dead fish*

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: He's not your father!

      "I look forward to the inevitable celeb pet paternity cases!"

      It happens in the world of showing animals all the time. Dogs, cats, horses ... even cows, sheep and hogs. One little bit of cryo-packed DNA looks very much like another. Some unscrupulous people will sell supposed high-end DNA, but substitute whatever they have lying around. The real thing is hard to come by[0], very expensive, and minimal in quantity[1], so of course there is a black market for it. A year or so later, when the younguns don't measure up and the DNA is checked ...

      [0] Pun intended. So shoot me.

      [1] Our stallions typically do between 50 and 100mL per session, with a maximum in late spring/early summer & a minimum in late fall/early winter. Hopefully I just ruined a few horse porn fantasies :-)

  5. Rosie Davies

    Pramagtically

    For my dogs this is likely to reveal they are equals parts fox poo, badger poo and well decomposed rabbit. Possibly with a smattering of dog in there.

    I love dogs. They're completely disgusting and couldn't give a fig.

    Rosie

    1. Pseudononymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: Pramagtically

      >I love dogs. They're completely disgusting and couldn't give a fig.

      Dogs say exactly the same thing about humans.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pramagtically

        A dog will piss in one end of a puddle and drink from the other... what can I say, they're the dogs dooh-daahs?

    2. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

      Re: Pramagtically

      Me too,Rosie. At least dogs are (mostly) honest.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Pramagtically

        "At least dogs are (mostly) honest."

        Are they? Here's a re-print of a story I told a couple years ago ...

        We got four robotic vacuums for Xmas one year (SWMBO's relatives are in cahoots, it would seem). We called them all FRED, short for Fucking Ridiculous Electronic Device, and turned one loose on each floor to see what would happen. The cats ignored them, but the dawgs took an instant dislike to them. They all met their demise in under three days.

        The first to go was FRED four (the one supposedly patrolling my attic office space). It was found beeping most piteously in a mud puddle under a rhododendron at the far end of the dawg's run. It never rolled again. FRED three disappeared. We never did find it[0]. FRED two kept mysteriously falling down the uncarpeted back-stairs, until the magic smoke came out. FRED one somehow wound up in the laundry sink while a load of wash was running. None of us actually observed the roboticide as it was occurring, so we don't know who the perp(s) is/are ... but my money is on the very elderly Standard Poodle, who had a rather guilty, yet satisfied look about him for a week or so afterwards.

        Needless to say, we didn't repeat the experiment.

        [0] Update: FRED three was found in the crawl-space under the feed barn about a year later. I have no idea how it got there, the only entrance large enough for it to physically fit is the locked trap door in the floor, and I have the only key.

        1. J__M__M

          Re: Pramagtically

          Those dogs did you a favor. Most would just take a dump on the carpet then sit back and watch the (shit) show.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Pramagtically

      One of our Greyhounds found a well-ripened skunk carcass to roll around on a couple weeks ago. Fun times. The other dawgs treated him like the conquering hero for several days ...

      The only product that actually works is Natures Miracle for Skunk. Trust me.

  6. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Sounds great - as long as the criminals don't think to just sell the dogs away from their homes. As already mentioned, it would need to be a national scheme to be of widespread use.

    Of course, it only works if there's already doubt about the ownership of a dog. If everything looks legit*, then there won't be a question and the dogs DNA would never be checked against the database.

    *Heaven forbid that the less stupid criminals might actually get paperwork (apparently) in order and stuff like that. I read of a case where a dog had been with a different family for some years before anyone realised that it's chip number didn't match the paperwork. The dog came from what appeared to be a genuine seller, it had paperwork, was chipped and registered - expect that the paperwork was faked, and the chip number didn't match.

    It should help with the more stupid criminals that get caught with what are clearly not their own pets in the van ...

  7. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    I wonder what the business model for CellMark here is. Genomes require quite an amount of disk space per genome (1.5GB was the size I was told) and the databases have generous amounts of RAM, CPUs and DBAs to keep them happy.

    Gloucestershire is surely a case to show to the world - look it can be done and not too inexpensively. Is the plan to use this to go to every municipality in the First World and find the 0.1% of dog-owners (my estimate) willing to pay up? Or is the real money in the genomic data, which can be sold as training set data to universities and multi-nationals.

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Joke

      "Genomes require quite an amount of disk space per genome (1.5GB was the size I was told) and the databases have generous amounts of RAM, CPUs and DBAs to keep them happy."

      It's ok! It will all be stored in 'teh clouds' in a leaky, unsecured bucket that anyone with the ability to right click on a mouse will be able to access.

      1. jake Silver badge

        "It will all be stored in 'teh clouds' in a leaky, unsecured bucket that anyone with the ability to right click on a mouse will be able to access."

        Access? Or delete, corrupt, intentionally re-write to suit, encrypt ... I love clouds. The potential is endless!

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      A hash of the genome however can be held in a few bytes.

      Why store everything?

      (They'll probably store specific markers rather than a simple hash, but even so it's still hundreds of bytes at most per record)

  8. mdecker

    Do I know you?

    I'm having a hard time figuring out why people would feel the need to have a DNA test to prove a dog is theirs. Can't they just call the dog? S/he knows who s/he is, right? If the pooch runs to you and covers you with "Oh man, did I miss you!" kisses, case solved.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Do I know you?

      What about the more friendly dogs who respond that way to anyone who calls their name? Or to anyone who calls a name vaguely similar? Or makes pretty much any kind of sound at all? Or who doesn't make a sound but looks vaguely in their direction? Or a different direction entirely? Who just exists at all? Who doesn't exist, but there might be something exciting in that direction in a few seconds, so better run over excitedly to check!

      Or alternatively, one of the grumpier and/or lazy dogs who secretly wishes it was a cat and refuses to acknowledge anyone unless there's food involved?

      And that's before you even start thinking about people deliberately trying to subvert such a test by hiding a treat in their pocket or smothering themselves in meat beforehand. A national DNA database may or may not be the solution, but certainly you want something a little more reliable than relying on the one-off reaction of a dumb animal with no clue what's going on.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Do I know you?

        Cuddles clearly know very little about dawgs. Poor thing.

  9. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Can’t they use Bill Gates’ technology that is used in the Covid vaccines? Just leave the vaccine out, inject the 5G antenna into your pet, and you can find it’s location at anytime on a website.

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