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Veterinary Forensics: Animals Curtailing Crime

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 76 Issue: 10 Dated: October 2007 Pages: 12-14
Joseph Yost; Tod Burke Ph.D.
Date Published
October 2007
3 pages
This article explains how animals can help investigators build evidence in a case through roles as witnesses, perpetrators, and victims.
Animals become witnesses when they provide evidence that places the suspect at a crime scene; for example, a victim's animal present at a crime scene can transfer its hair, saliva, blood, urine, or feces to the suspect. Also, the suspect's animal can transfer such evidence from the suspect to objects or victims at a crime scene. When an animal is involved in an attack on a human or another animal, i.e., when an animal becomes a perpetrator, DNA from the animal at the scene of the attack can identify which animal was the perpetrator. This can be critical evidence in cases in which the owner of an animal that kills a human is charged with reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter. Animals are victims when they are abused or stolen. Investigators can match DNA on the abuser's weapon of abuse to the animal victim's DNA. DNA can also be used to trace the ownership of a stolen animal. An example of such a case was when the DNA of suspected stolen cattle was traced to parent cattle on the legitimate owner's farm. Because of the potential importance of evidence from animals, investigators should pay attention to whether animals may be the source of evidence found at crime scenes or on victims and suspects. 19 notes