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February 15, 2021

ASPCA opens Veterinary Forensic Science Center

Published on February 03, 2021

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced in December 2020 the opening of its Veterinary Forensic Science Center in Gainesville, Florida.

ASPCA veterinary forensics photos
Top: Dr. Robert Reisman of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals gives a tour of the ASPCA necropsy laboratory in New York City. Bottom: The ASPCA assists with the removal of 50 neglected horses from a property in Florida. (Photos courtesy of ASPCA)

The laboratory will support law enforcement across the country with cases of suspected cruelty to companion animals through services including necropsy services, radiography, CT scans, forensic osteology, forensic examinations of live animals, response to animal crime scenes, and excavations.

The 3,000-square-foot facility has a dedicated space for teaching, including a student office and a conference area. The facility is the only laboratory of its kind in the U.S. specializing in companion and other domesticated animals and employs three forensic veterinarians, a forensic veterinary assistant, and a crime scene analyst.

Dr. Rachel Touroo, who oversees the center, said she wants veterinarians to know the VFSC is a resource for them.

“We provide training like externships and webinars,” she said. “We can also consult on cases. If you have questions, reach out. If law enforcement reaches out, and they (the veterinarian) can’t help, we may be able to assist.”

The center only accepts cases from law enforcement on criminal investigations, but it will also serve as a teaching facility to help prevent and respond to animal cruelty nationwide.

“Our goal is to empower communities to prevent and respond effectively to animal cruelty,” Dr. Touroo said. “We are here to assist the veterinary community, law enforcement, and advance veterinary forensic sciences.”

The opening of the center expands on the work that the ASPCA has been doing to support law enforcement with suspected cases of animal cruelty for years. The ASPCA has assisted law enforcement with more than 1,000 criminal investigations over the past 10 years involving animals and provided forensic support, according to a press release.

The ASPCA developed clinical standards and best practices for veterinary forensic sciences in collaboration with Florida International University and Tufts University.

Veterinarians interested in learning more about the VFSC can email vfscataspca [dot] org.


Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified guidelines the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals created. The ASPCA, in collaboration with Florida International University and Tufts University, created clinical standards and best practices for veterinary forensic sciences.