NEW YORK (CBS) ― It's state of the art science designed to protect those who can't protect themselves -- defenseless animals. CBS 2 HD has learned how the ASPCA is going CSI.
Michael Vick's recent conviction for his role in a brutal dog fighting ring shined the spotlight on the issue of animal cruelty and crime.
Now, like something ripped from the pages of the show CSI a new, one of a kind tool to combat crime against animals has been unveiled. This is the nation's first mobile animal CSI unit," said forensic veterinarian Dr. Melinda Merck.
That's right a high-tech, animal crime scene investigation unit was unveiled by the ASPCA on Tuesday.
"This is an animal CSI van that can literally go to the crime scene, gather forensic evidence and at the same time be a veterinary treatment center for any victims of animal cruelty that are on the scene," ASPCA president Ed Sayers said.
Secrets lie in the bones - and in the tissue and in the shape of the
wounds, and the severity and type of injuries.
And these days, when investigators are poring over X-rays, bone
fragments, bullet trajectories or other details, it may be to
establish whether a crime was committed against an animal.
Forensic crime-scene investigations are no longer limited to human
victims. Many of the very same techniques brought to public awareness
by the popular CSI television series are being used to make cases
against those who have harmed or killed cats, dogs, horses or other
Applying forensic science to animal victims is a specialty still so
new that it's fairly rare. But two self-taught experts who make up the
recently formed Veterinary Forensics unit of the American Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are writing book and chapter
(three how-to tomes so far) and sharing their knowledge almost as
quickly as they develop it.
Melinda Merck is a veterinarian who ran an Atlanta-area cat clinic for
years before becoming intrigued with forensic science in the '90s.
Randall Lockwood has a doctorate in psychology and has developed
expertise in cruelty and violence. They travel the country to
investigate crimes against animals (including the Michael Vick
dogfighting case and a notorious Atlanta puppy-torture case last