Which of my followers love channels like Investigation Discovery or shows like Forensic Files? It’s one of my addictions! My family doesn’t like the fact that I love watching all of these because let’s face it , they can be depressing. But I find an alternative reason to watch. Watching the world evolve as quickly as it does is fascinating. And now there is more new technology to help society advance in resolving crime mysteries.
The Veterinarian Forensic Lab at the University of California, has changed the way crimes are investigated and prosecuted worldwide.
The lab has been called the “CSI of the four-legged world,” and it is the nation’s first laboratory dedicated to animal DNA profiling. It’s accredited by the prestigious American Society of Crime Lab Directors because the VFL conducts animal-related forensic tests as rigorously as any lab dealing with human DNA.
Simply put, the VFL uses DNA from animals to help solve a variety of crimes — from burglary and animal abuse to sexual assault and murder. They analyze crime scene evidence that, decades ago, might have been overlooked by detectives. Today, investigators automatically collect any animal fur or hairs, feces, urine stains and tissue samples found at a crime scene. They also take mouth swabs from pets after they defend their owners against attackers.
The case that helped establish the lab came from New Hampton, Iowa, in 1999. A sexual assault victim was not able to pick her attacker out of a police lineup. But she remembered that, as she stood near the man’s truck to answer his request for directions, her dog had lifted his leg and urinated on one of the tires. Two days later, police found the truck, swabbed the tire and the lab (then the foremost test center for bloodtyping cattle) was able to place the suspect where he insisted he had never been — alongside the victim. That conviction convinced everyone of the need for a full-time animal DNA testing lab.
How fascinating is this? You have to admit, very fascinating . Another case, where The VFL played a significant role was a grisly triple homicide case out of Indiana. The suspect insisted he had not stood at the spot where three workmen had been shot execution style. But police found a shoe print left behind in a poop patty and scooped up the evidence for evaluation. The lab was able to genetically match the droppings to the property owner’s dog and to a pencil eraser-sized specimen taken from the suspect’s shoe. Bingo! The suspect was convicted and is serving life in prison.
Besides its work in the U.S., the VFL has worked criminal investigations in several countries including Japan, Ireland, Canada, Australia and Argentina. Scotland Yard approached the lab to help solve the stabbing death of a bouncer outside a pub. Drops of non-human blood had flummoxed the Brits.
The VFL did the testing and qwere able to match the blood on the sidewalk to the suspect’s dog, which had apparently had his ear nicked during the altercation.” It was the first time dog DNA was used in a U.K. trial.
The lab works lots of dog-on-human attack cases, many of them involving children. In fact, one such case was upgraded to homicide after the female victim was taken off life support and died. But the staff at VFL knows first hand that what humans do to animals can be just as vicious.
Law enforcement in Florida had their eye on a suspected serial animal abuser and sent items to the lab for testing. Police believed this man had started out torturing hamsters, graduated to shooting razor arrows at livestock and then began killing goats and llamas in hideous ways. The lab was able to link the suspect to the grisly crimes when they identified the blood on his shirt as being from a llama. After the arrest, the lead detective breathed a sigh of relief.
Law enforcement in Florida had their eye on a suspected serial animal abuser and sent items to the lab for testing. Police believed this man had started out torturing hamsters, graduated to shooting razor arrows at livestock and then began killing goats and llamas in hideous ways. The lab was able to link the suspect to the grisly crimes when they identified the blood on his shirt as being from a llama. After the arrest, the lead detective breathed a sigh of relief
All of us with pets have a special bond — a special way of communicating with our beloved animals. Now, thanks to the Veterinarian Forensic Lab, whether the animal is the victim, the perpetrator or simply a witness to a crime, they can communicate to the courts as well.