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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue

CSI methods being used in animal cruelty cases

Animal abusers beware: "Newly emerging" CSI-like techniques are going to make it easier to put you in jail.

A veterinary forensic sciences program that will go beyond the classroom and aid in the prosecution of animal cruelty cases has been launched by the University of Florida and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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"This is a newly emerging field," Dr. Bruce Goldberger, a forensic toxicologist at the university, states in a media release. "We are translating our knowledge of forensic science to a new field devoted to solving crimes against animals."

The first-in-the-nation program, which is being established within the College of Medicine at University of Florida in Gainesville, will be directly involved in forensic work on animal cruelty cases investigated by the ASPCA, as well as acting as a resource to assist other agencies with such investigations.

"Having access to the advanced forensic capabilities of the University of Florida will greatly enhance the fight against animal abuse," said Dr. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA senior vice president for anti-cruelty field services.

In addition to offering undergraduate and graduate programs, continuing education programs will be available through workshops for veterinarians, law enforcement, animal control officers and attorneys.

"The ability to offer a joint forensic science and veterinary medicine education at the bachelor and master’s level is unprecedented," said Dr. Melinda Merck, ASPCA's senior director of veterinary forensics.

The ASPCA will provide an initial gift of $150,000 for the program.

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The ASPCA started using forensic techniques in abuse cases when it began using a Mobile Animal CSI Unit, a specially designed vehicle outfitted with forensics tools and medical equipment tailored for animals. The Animal CSI vehicle was created to advance the prosecution of animal cruelty and help strengthen cases against offenders by incorporating the emerging field of veterinary forensics in crime scene investigations.

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