About: The ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program
The ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program is made possible with financial support from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The educational mission of the program is to foster the application of the forensic sciences to veterinary medicine through workshops, shortcourses, graduate research, case analysis, and distance education.
Areas of education in Veterinary Forensic Sciences
The partnership between the University of Florida’s Maples Center for Forensic Medicine and the ASPCA started in 2009 with the introduction of an in-person workshop on animal crime scene analysis and a conference on veterinary forensic sciences. This partnership has produced a number of professional activities created to foster the application of the forensic sciences to veterinary medicine. These program areas include:
- Workshops and shortcourses designed to provide hands-on training to law enforcement, legal investigators, and veterinary professionals.
- A distance education program in veterinary forensic sciences created to provide a Graduate Certificate in Veterinary Forensic Sciences.
- A renowned Forensic Services Team to provide expert assistance to law enforcement agencies and veterinary professionals throughout the United States.
- The International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association, which is dedicated to foster the application of the forensic sciences to veterinary medicine.
Professionals in Veterinary Forensic Sciences
Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians
Veterinarians and veterinary technicians are the primary professionals who encounter animal cruelty, conduct examinations, and become involved in a legal investigation. They are also most likely to render expert opinions in a court of law regarding cases of suspected animal cruelty. For these cases, professionals in veterinary medicine who are well versed in various aspects of forensic science are critical to a properly managed case response. Veterinarians are often responsible for the documentation of the physical findings of abuse, collection of associated physical evidence, and provide expert opinions in a court of law. Veterinarians may also be requested to assist at the crime scene by state and local law enforcement officials.
Crime Scene Investigators, Forensic Laboratory Analysts, and Law Enforcement
Professionals who are engaged in forensic science and crime scene analysis focused on crimes against humans often encounter acts of animal cruelty in their routine casework. The ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program is also designed for these professionals so they can better document, collect, and preserve evidence from scenes of animal cruelty for the prosecution of the animal crime or for additional demonstrative evidence for the prosecution of the human crime. Since crimes against animals are well-documented indicator crimes of future violent behavior towards humans, law enforcement and forensic science professionals are keenly aware of the need to document and prosecute crimes against animals.