CSI: Pet Style
CSI: New York
Who knew forensic science was going to be a big hit - no matter what the location? The National District Attorneys Association is even complaining about the "CSI effect" that is becoming more and more evident with real-life jurors. It's getting harder by the minute, or by every episode, to deceive jurors and make them buy lawyers' creatively thought out reasoning and educated theories.
However, it is amazing to discover that this branch of science is not limited only to humans. Melinda Merck, a veterinarian who specializes in animal cruelty cases, travels across the country to aid law enforcers in investigating animal-related crimes. She is the one and only animal CSI specialist in the US. However, it is surprising and unfortunate that she investigates about 2 cases per month, the cases ranging from animal cruelty to dog fighting.
What Melinda does is very helpful since animal abuse cases are very hard to prosecute. Even if you do have witnesses, they can't talk - even if their lives depended on it. This is where the CSI methodology, as seen on the hit TV franchise, plays a vital role. If you've ever watched even a single episode of CSI, CSI:Miami, or CSI: New York you know that witnesses and victims there don't do a lot of talking. CSIs rely on hard evidence to solve cases; they let it do the talking for them. That technique is applicable and very useful when solving animal-related cases.
An interesting fact to note is that Melinda uses the same tools as those seen on the TV show. She examines blood spatter, collects DNA samples, and compares dental characteristics to properly evaluate a crime or to determine if indeed a crime has been committed. Fans of the show will find her methods familiar and will breathe easier knowing that their pets have their own CSIs that will give them a voice if the need arises.
Veterinary colleges across the US are starting to embrace the idea and are offering forensic classes to its students which, I believe, is good news for all pet lovers. Police and law enforcement have very little, if any, knowledge of animal behavior and physiology. Animal forensics is a big step forward for law enforcement and I'm glad it is being taken seriously; I'm only surprised as to why it has taken so so long for people to realize its importance.