Posts Tagged ‘Forensics’

CSI goes four-legged

April 2, 2008

I first encountered an animal cruelty case as a veterinary student eight years ago. The patient, a pet rabbit, had a 10 centimetre cut across her left thigh. The wound itself was clean, the edges neat. My boss explained that this was consistent with the use of a sharp instrument, probably a razor blade. It was the third occasion a rabbit from this household had come in with the same kind of wound.

I was dumbfounded when my boss agreed to stitch up the wound without grilling the owner, an unhappy-looking teenage boy accompanied by his distraught mother. Surely we had a duty of care not to return this rabbit to a high-risk household. We could seize the rabbit and notify the authorities, putting an end to this cycle of cruelty.

“It would never get to court,” my boss explained. “How would you prove it?”

She had a point. We’d be unlikely to find a witness willing to testify, given both boy and mother reported that the rabbit had simply “fallen over”. We didn’t have the resources to collect samples for forensic testing, and we had only written records to back up our claims that rabbits from the same household had come in with similar wounds.

Veterinarians have always worked on the front line of animal welfare, but when it comes to animal cruelty, many have felt they can do little more than patch up or put down abused animals.

But times are changing. This month the University of Florida Centre for Forensic Medicine and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) will host the first international conference on veterinary forensics.

Click here for the full article.

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