Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pets fight crime (sort of)


submit by troym; comments by blogger jgl

The article mentions a couple different situations where animals and forensics cross paths. It doesn't go into much detail about the techniques. I think animal STRs (dog and cat, at least) are getting better and better, meaning the databases are improving. 1 in 67 million is a pretty impressive stat.

I wonder how they take breeding (inbreeding) into account?

...Christian eventually paid $500 for the evidence to be tested at the Veterinary Genetics Lab at the University of California at Davis, which has the largest database of domesticated-animal DNA in the country. The result? A one in 67 million chance the hair belonged to anyone other than Lucky.

"Usually, people come to us because it's a very emotional matter," said Beth Wictum, acting director of the lab's forensics division. "They've lost a pet, and for many people, pets are a member of the family and they want to get resolution."

Wictum's lab handles between 150 and 200 cases a year from all over the world. But scientists there don't just deal with pet-on-pet attacks. They process evidence from cases involving animal attacks on humans, human attacks on animals, and even human crimes against each other in which an animal may yield important clues...

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! I did not know that forensic science was used in animal abuse cases and other animal cases. I think that the field involving Veterinary Forensics will become one of the fastest growing fields in the next few years due to the enormous population of animal lovers (such as myself). It is so great to know that finally someone has a voice for the animal that was tortured. If forensic scientists would not have proved that the two boys baked that puppy alive, they would most likely be torturing other animals right now or perhaps even baking a person. I learned in my psychology class that people who torture animals usually go on to torture people. Thank you forensic department for this story! It has made my day! tdj

Forensic Bloggers said...

you're right. this field should expand. for people 13 DNA locations have been identified and the statistics have been thoroughly explored. It will take some time, but eventually the same could be done for animals.
-jgl

Anonymous said...

I'm suprised it has taken this long for this field to get big. Animals can play an important role in a crime without even being aware of it. Using evidence left by animals can be a big contribution to solving a crime, especially since some kind of animal is usually around, like bugs. It's great that they
can solve animal vs animal crimes like this, but they need to be careful with this because people could get out of hand wanting the "murder" or their cat or other animal solved. People might forget that animals have different intentions for killing than people- so if some animal kills a lady's cat and she wants justice, she is not going to think that maybe a cyote killed it to eat and feed it's family. It is a great field, but it needs to be approached carefully.
-KNS

Anonymous said...

I think this is great that animals can have a voice. In addition this will not only help bring some justice but it will also help us advance in this field. Any advancement in science that can be used for justice is certainly a positive thing.

BDD

Anonymous said...

Ok, I have to say, the picture cracks me up! This article is very interesting. I had no idea that investigators are now able to solve crimes using DNA evidence from animals! Who'd a thought?! The part about the woman being able to identify her attacker based on the fact that she remembered her dog urinating on the attacker's vehicle is amazing. Otherwise, this man could have gone on to harm countless more women. Way to go forensic science!!

LI

Forensic Bloggers said...

good comments.

we all agree this evidence can be helpful. the tax payers and budgets will probably prevent these methods from being used on small crimes, but the article did a good job of pointing out othe rserious crimes involving pets beyond human-human murder.

Anonymous said...

Forensics meets the world of animal-related crimes? What a great idea! I'm surprised it has taken as long as it has for this field to truley take off. All animals are an important part of our lives and our society. Animal abuse, wildlife poaching, ect. are major problems. Using DNA evidence to solve animal related crimes provides justice for not only the animals but for our society as a whole.
AP

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