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Veterinary forensics giving a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves

By Janel Brown

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With television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, NCiS and Bones gaining popularity, the general public has become fascinated by the worlds of forensic science and law enforcement. Similarly, with shows like Animal Cops and Animal Precinct, the public has also become aware of the gravity of animal cruelty. It only makes sense then, that the forensic techniques used in human crime investigation would be modified to use in the investigation of crimes of animal cruelty. Dr. Melinda Merck and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) have taken up the tasks of creating and leading the field of veterinary forensics as it becomes more and more necessary to provide forensic evidence when prosecuting those who abuse animals. 
This study compares and contrasts the similarities and differences that exist between veterinary forensic cases and human forensic cases. Which techniques are preserved directly%5C from human forensic cases and which must be modified in order to be used in animal abuse cases? The study was conducted using literary as well as field research. Since veterinary forensics is still relatively new, specific literary research is limited, but current. The field research consisted of a series of lectures as well as a unique opportunity in which the author was able to walk through the steps of an actual investigation. This study also considers the link between animal cruelty and other violent crimes and the importance of prosecuting animal cruelty.
The results show that, while many of the techniques used in human forensic cases are very similar to the ones used in veterinary cases, most techniques must be modified in some way in order make up for the differences between a human and an animal victim. This is usually due to the differences in the anatomy and behavior of humans and animals. The study also shows that animal cruelty is a common childhood occurrence among domestic abusers and serial killers.
Veterinary forensics is a growing field that holds many opportunities for research. As the field becomes more prominent, new fields of specialization will open up, giving investigators the chance to become experts in one specific aspect of veterinary forensics and each of these new areas of expertise will provide research opportunities. The melding of human and veterinary forensic science will ultimately benefit society, protecting people and animals alike. 


Katie Carroll

Date 2009
Pages 67
Publisher Washington State University
Department College of Veterinary Medicine
Degree Honors
Language English
University Washington State University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Anger
  2. Animal care
  3. Animal cruelty
  4. Animal roles
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Crime
  7. Law Enforcement
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. Veterinarians
  10. Veterinary forensic medicine.