Heard this one? It’s about a small Israeli city’s new approach to ridding Israel of the pet lovers everyone loves to hate…those unwilling to pick up after their dogs.

No one likes scooping poop. But officials in Petah Tikva have joined forces with veterinarians to apply high tech DNA technology to solving the problem of stray stool in public places. Apparently they don’t want to turn their city into another Paris (which, I’m told, has become a much safer place to stroll barefoot in recent years).

Here’s the scoop: Apparently, even stool provides genetic markers traceable to the individual pet who produced it. Veterinarians in this Tel Aviv suburb help authorities compile a database of dogs’ DNA based on buccal swabs (where the inside of the mouth is scraped of a few cells for analysis). When stray stool is found on the sidewalk the city can then have it analyzed to identify the offender and enforce its laws via citation.

Sounds crazy but it must be true—I heard about it on NPR.

The only glitch in the plan is its current limitations: the voluntary nature of the buccal swab-based DNA database. I mean, what kind of dog owner is more likely to have their dog swabbed for good citizenship? The proper pooper scooper or the one with lax canine sanitary protocols and less law-abiding ways?

Rest assured, I’ll not be the first to clamor for mandatory DNA profiling of pets by veterinarians so that the government can exert greater controls over the freedoms of those who seek our services.

Nonetheless, this Israeli city’s seems like a terrifically complex and expensive clean streets program. If it’s going to work it needs more than just a spate of cheeky international PR. It requires the voluntary inclusion of a critical mass of potential offenders—to which I say…good luck with that.

Nope. This is just another version of the you-can’t-legislate-common-sense scenario. This time it’s more like, you-can’t-enforce-civic-obedience-based-on-voluntary reporting. Dog owners who don’t respect their fellow citizens will doubtless prevail, as they do in dog parks and on sidewalks everywhere. As with every other crime, real consequences for the irresponsible offenders is the only solution.

PS: After writing this I read another article which pointed out additional benefits of the DNA database: It also helps identify non-microchipped animals and will be used to research dog diseases. Now that’s real incentive. But again, only for the civically minded animal lovers in our midst.