DNA Forensic Evidence for Dog Fights

The database, a joint effort by the A.S.P.C.A., the Louisiana S.P.C.A., the Humane Society of Missouri and researchers at the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California, Davis, was developed during an investigation last July that resulted in 26 arrests and the seizure of more than 400 dogs. The investigation, which stretched across seven states, from Iowa to Texas, resulted in the largest dog-fighting raid in United States history, the authorities said.

“We ran the DNA to see if we could connect the different crime scenes and 400 different dogs, which we were able to do,” said Dr. Melinda Merck, a forensic veterinarian for the A.S.P.C.A. “A lot of times defendants will claim not only that they are not dog fighting, but also that they’re just breeding and they don’t know each other.”

The DNA showed otherwise, indicating that many of the dogs were related. The July raids have yielded at least 17 guilty pleas, and while the DNA evidence did not conclusively prove a relationship among defendants, it certainly suggested one. Investigators caution, however, that DNA evidence alone will rarely make a case, though many juries have come to expect it.

A great quick-read from the New York Times, check it out.



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