Introducing the Class of 2013: Veterinary Forensic Sciences Graduate Certificate

Published: July 8th, 2013

Category: News

In May 2013 five professionals in the field of veterinary forensic sciences made history: they became the first group in the world to receive their Veterinary Forensic Sciences Graduate Certificate. The certificate is offered by the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine, in partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Over the past two years the inaugural class, whose members hailed from around the United States, completed a total of five courses in veterinary forensic sciences. The courses were offered fully online through the distance learning program, allowing students to continue working in their respective fields or pursuing advanced educational degrees.

Meet the Inaugural Graduating Class!

We are proud to introduce our inaugural class of certificate program graduates: Ann Cavender, Ellen Hirshberg, Patricia Norris, Kristine Peters, and Lisa Shriver.

Ann Cavender

Ann Cavender, DVM, graduated from Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980. She is the owner and founder of Salem Veterinary Services, a full service, general practice located in Salem, Michigan. Established in 1981, Salem Veterinary Services treats traditional species and exotics as well as working with various rescue and humane groups in the area offering low cost spay/neuter and TNR programs. Dr. Cavender has testified in local animal cruelty cases. Dr. Cavender is a charter member of International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association.


Ellen Hirshberg

Ellen Hirshberg, DVM, currently works in clinical practice at a humane society. In that capacity she performs routine patient examinations, diagnostics, and treatment. She also works in a city shelter facility, where animals with a suspicious clinical appearance are evaluated as potential victims of abuse, neglect, or cruelty. She provides appropriate documentation and referral to the local humane law enforcement agency for further investigation. Prior to attending veterinary medical school,  Dr. Hirshberg worked as a livestock inspector for a state regulatory agency. She performed duties to enforce federal and state statutes, in order to prevent exotic and zoonotic disease introduction and dissemination through both intrastate and  international channels. In retrospect, she believes these statutory programs also affected the quality of life of food producing animals by regular unannounced visits to evaluate the conditions of the premises, animals and the quality of feed supplied to livestock and poultry. After earning her DVM, Dr. Hishberg joined a national humane organization and was involved in all aspects of clinical practice including surgery, client consultations, and patient management. Her position also involved supporting anti-cruelty law enforcement activities through medical evaluations, diagnostics, and appropriate management of patients presented as potential victims of abuse, neglect, and/or aggravated animal cruelty. She has also testified at numerous trials related to violation of state and federal Swine Health Protection Acts. Dr. Hirshberg is a member of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association.


Patricia Norris

Patricia Norris, DVM, is the Sheriff’s veterinarian for the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department and the veterinarian for the New Mexico Animal Sheltering Board. In June 2013, she became the first person to be deemed an “expert” in veterinary forensic sciences by the State of New Mexico. As Sheriff’s veterinarian Dr. Norris has been involved in many animal cruelty cases throughout the state; cases including dog fighting, cock fighting, hoarding, felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty as well as animal abuse occurring in conjunction with domestic violence. In addition, she chaired the Rio Rancho Animal Welfare Task Force, which presented the recommendations for updating and improving the animal related ordinances which were adopted by the City of Rio Rancho. Dr. Norris has also given presentations on veterinary forensics and animal cruelty issues to local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, as well as to in-state and out-of-state animal control, animal welfare, adult protection and child welfare groups. As a private practitioner, Dr. Norris set up Pet Safe programs in both North Carolina and New Mexico which provided free boarding and evaluation of animals owned by the victims of domestic violence. She is a consultant for the TV show “Hoarders” on the A&E channel. Dr. Norris is a charter and current member of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association.


Kristine Peters

Kristine “Ryan” Peters is a veterinary student at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in the class of 2014.  As a veterinary student she was the 2012-2013 International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association International Student Representative and is the class of 2014 Animal Welfare Representative. Kristine has volunteered for many years in disaster animal rescue, Larimer County Search and Rescue, and with HSVMA – Rural Area Veterinary Services. As the Executive Director of a 501c3 Non-Profit Corporation dedicated to animal welfare, disaster rescue, and spay/neuter and wellness services in low income communities, Kristine is a Certified Animal Cruelty Investigator and Certified Disaster Animal Rescuer. Kristine was a featured speaker at the Colorado Annual Animal Control Spring 2013 Conference on the topic of Animal Crime Scene Processing and she is a member of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association.


Lisa Shriver

ShriverLisa Shriver, DVM, graduated from The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She first became interested in forensics while completing her undergraduate degree in Biology and Anthropology at Indiana University. Following college, she became employed at the medical clinic in the Louisiana SPCA which inspired her to pursue veterinary medicine so she could positively affect the lives of animals and their owners. During veterinary school, Dr. Shriver discovered that veterinary forensic medicine combined two of her main interests: shelter medicine and pathology. Since that time, she has vigorously sought out educational and professional experiences in the emerging fields of shelter medicine and veterinary forensics. Since completing a small animal internship at Michigan State University, Dr. Shriver has been involved with several large scale cruelty (puppy mill, hoarding) cases as well as temporary sheltering operations for these cases and natural disasters, both independently and in conjunction with national animal welfare organizations. She has also consulted with the HSVMA – Rural Area Veterinary Services and travels to reservations to fulfill a dual mission: providing access to veterinary care for those without it while teaching veterinary students. Dr. Shriver is a member of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association.

Please join us in congratulating our inaugural class of graduates!

To learn more about the program or to apply, visit: