Veterinary Forensics Animal Cruelty Investigations

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-12-26
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
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Supplemental Materials

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  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


Veterinary Forensics, Second Edition is a practical reference on applying veterinary forensic findings in animal cruelty cases. Now providing a greater focus on findings in animals, the second edition continues to offer guidance with more detailed information on crime scene investigation, forensic testing and findings, handling evidence, and testifying in court. Key changes to the new edition include new chapters on abuse in large animals, poultry, and birds; a standalone chapter on entomology; a new section on large scale cruelty investigation; an expanded section on pain and suffering; more pathology information; and more photos, forms, and information throughout. Logs and workbooks from the book are available on a companion website, allowing readers to download, customize, and use these forms in forensics investigations. Veterinary Forensics is an essential resource for veterinarians, pathologists, attorneys, and investigators working on animal abuse cases.

Author Biography

Melinda Merck, DVM, is owner of Veterinary Forensics Consulting, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia.

Table of Contents

List of Contributors




1 The Legal System: The Veterinarian’s Role and Responsibilities


Defining Animal Cruelty

Governing Laws

How Veterinarians Become Involved

Search and Seizure

Handling the Media in Animal Cruelty Cases


Filing Criminal Charges and Hearings

Non-Criminal Cases


Compensation for the Veterinarian


2 Crime Scene Investigation


The Veterinarian’s Role and Handling of Animals at the Crime Scene

General Considerations for Crime Scene Processing

Environment: Weather Data

Photography and Videography

Evidence Recognition and Documentation

Evidence Collection and Packaging

Exclusionary Biological Testing

Blood Evidence

Burial Scenes: Grave Detection, Mapping, and Excavation

3 CSI: Examination of the Animal

General Considerations

Determining Non-Accidental Injury

Behavioral Considerations of Animals

Evidence Documentation, Collection, and Packaging

Chain of Custody

Photography and Videography

Examination and Documentation of the Live Animal

External Examination

Forensic Necropsy

Special Considerations

The Forensic Report

4 Special Considerations in Animal Cruelty Cases

Large Scale Cruelty Cases

Trace Evidence

Forensic Botany

DNA: Deoxyribonucleic Acid

Animal Death/Injury in Human Suspicious Death/Injury Cases

Other Unique Identifiers of Animals

Münchausen Syndrome by Proxy



Suggested Reading on Pain in Animals

5 Blunt Force Trauma





Ligature Injuries

Avulsion Injuries


Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Injuries

Fall Injuries

Swinging/Dragging Injuries

Grooming-Associated Injuries

Blunt Force Injuries to Specific Body Regions

6 Sharp Force Injuries

General Considerations

Stab Wounds

Incised-Stab Wounds

Incised Wounds

Chop Wounds

Mutilations, Predator Attacks, and Dog Attacks

Ritualistic Crimes

7 Burn-, Electrical-, and Fire-Related Injuries

Interpreting Burn Patterns

Recognition and Collection of Evidence

Burn Classification

Systemic Effects of Burns

General Microscopic Examination Findings in Burns

Thermal Burns

Chemical Burns

Electrical Burns

Fire-Related Injuries

8 Firearm Injuries


Overview of Firearms

Wound Ballistics

Determining Entrance and Exit Wounds

Determining Gunshot Range

Examination of Gunshot Victims

9 Asphyxia

Overview of Asphyxia

General Findings in Asphyxia



Mechanical Asphyxia


10 Poisoning

Overview of Intentional Poisonings

Evidence and History


Agents Used in Animal Poisonings


11 Neglect


Environment Examination

Malnutrition: Improper Feeding

Malnutrition: Starvation

Animal Hoarders and Animal Sanctuaries

Puppy Mills

Heat Stroke


Embedded Collars


Untreated Injuries

12 Sexual Abuse


Considerations for Crime Scene Investigation

Assessment of Videos

General Examination Findings

Examination Procedures

Suspicious Examination Findings

Zoonotic Disease

Evaluation and Differentiation of Human and Canine Sperm and Semen

13 Animal Fighting

Overview of Dog Fighting

The Fighting Dog

Fighting Classifications

The Fight and The Dog Fighting Pit

Training and Fighting Paraphernalia

Canine CODIS: Fighting Dog Combined DNA Index System

Examination of the Animal


Other Types of Animal Fighting


14 Postmortem Changes and the Postmortem Interval


Examination of the Body

Determining the PMI: Examination of the Crime Scene

15 Forensic Entomology: The Use of Insects in Animal Cruelty Cases


Principles of Medicolegal Entomology

Cutaneous Myiasis: The Insect Colonization of Live Animals

Other Uses for Insects in Animal Cruelty Investigations

Collection of Insect Evidence


16 Large Animal Cruelty


Assessing Pain and Suffering

Investigation of Cruelty


Body Condition Scoring

Evaluation of Water

Hoof Care

Dental Care


Accidental and Non-Accidental Injuries

17 Avian Cruelty

Pet Bird Cruelty

Avian Abuse Defined

Intentional Abuse

Unintentional Abuse

Veterinary Abuse

Poultry Cruelty

General Exam Findings in Pet Bird and Poultry Cruelty


1. Colorado Veterinary Medical Association Protocol for Mandatory Reporting of Animal Cruelty and Animal Fighting

2. Case Status Form

3. Evidence Log/Chain of Custody Form

4. Photo Log

5. Animal Cruelty Forensic Supplies

6. Clandestine Burial Crime Scene Checklist

7. Veterinarian Crime Scene Checklist

8. Deceased Animal Intake Questionnaire

9. Live Animal Intake Questionnaire

10. Live Exam Form

11. Necropsy Exam Form

12. Fixed Tissue List for Histopathology

13. Canine Body Condition Score for 1–9 and 1–5 Scales

14. Feline Body Condition Score for 1–9 and 1–5 Scales

15. Dog Diagram: Condition of Skin, Haircoat, and Nails Form

16. Cat Diagram: Condition of Skin, Haircoat, and Nails Form

17. Cat Skeleton Lesions Form

18. Dog Skeleton Lesions Form

19. Cat and Dog Skeletal Inventory Form

20. Live Exam Report Template

21. Necropsy Report Template

22. Forensic Medical Protocol for Large Scale Cases

23. Large Scale Medical Supply List

24. Large Scale Live Animal Exam Form

25. Rapid Bird Exam Form

26. Botany Field Report

27. Dog Bite Investigation Worksheet

28. Basic Small Pet Bird Care in Temporary Shelters

29. Tuft’s Animal Care and Condition Scale for Dogs

30. Tufts Animal Care and Condition Scale for the Environment

31. Dogfighting Terminology

32. Cajun Rules for Dogfighting

33. Dogfighting Scar and Injury Chart

34. Cockfighting Scar and Injury Chart

35. Examples of Vitamins, Drugs, and Medical Supplies Used in Dogfighting

36. Entomology Form for Animal Cases

37. Webliography


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