Anatomy of an Animal Crime Scene


After the ASPCA helps law enforcement save animals from dire conditions, we’re concerned with ensuring no other animals face the same fate. One way we do that is by helping investigate animal crime scenes.

Enter the ASPCA’s groundbreaking veterinary forensic sciences program. This relatively new field uses forensic sciences—just like those used in human CSI—to locate, record and preserve physical evidence in an animal-related investigation.

Without physical evidence—including bones, animals, animal remains and even financial records—we couldn’t show the link between the victims, suspects, objects and crime scene, so vet forensics is a critical tool in the fight against animal cruelty.

Every crime scene is different, but, Dr. Jason Byrd explains, ASPCA forensic scientists use the following steps to gather evidence.


anatomy-of-a-crime-scene-slideshow-1assesmentWhen our Forensic Sciences team arrives at a crime scene, they assess the situation. They examine what dangers might be present, how to best collect the evidence, and whether they need extra specialists or equipment.


anatomy-of-a-crime-scene-slideshow-2observationNext, the team does a walk-through of the crime scene to provide initial documentation. A scene photographer and scribe (writer) comb the property, carefully and thoroughly documenting the scene’s conditions when investigators arrive.

The lead investigator and evidence collection team follow. They assess how to best collect the physical evidence on scene, and to make note of what areas might be at risk for contamination or destruction during investigation—those should be processed first. All the while, the team takes copious notes.


anatomy-of-a-crime-scene-slideshow-3documentationThis could be the most important phase of all. There are four major forms of crime scene documentation: notes, photography, videography, and sketches, and they all must be done throughout the investigation.

The team takes notes throughout the entire investigation. They include all observations of the scene, actions taken, techniques used, description of evidence located, and any other relevant information.

Photographs are the most crucial aspect of scene documentation because they capture an accurate representation of the scene and any evidence.

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