NEW YORK, December 11, 2007The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today unveiled the nation’s first-ever “Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit,” a specially-designed vehicle outfitted with state-of-the-art forensics tools as well as medical equipment tailored for animal patients. A “forensics first,” the “Animal CSI” vehicle was created to significantly advance the prosecution of animal cruelty and help strengthen cases against offenders by incorporating the emerging field of veterinary forensics in crime scene investigations. To further its commitment to fighting animal cruelty, the ASPCA also announced plans to break ground next year on the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Institute.
“Time and time again we see that our nation’s most appalling criminals have a history of abusing animalsthat animal cruelty and human cruelty are indelibly linkedand the ASPCA is committed to providing resources and training to stop these crimes in their tracks,” said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres. “The Mobile Animal CSI unit and the Anti-Cruelty Institute are two new milestones in our ongoing fight against animal cruelty.”
On the Road: Mobile Animal CSI Unit
The mobile forensic vehicle will operate under the leadership of the nation’s premier forensic veterinarian and “animal CSI,” the ASPCA’s Dr. Melinda Merck, and bring both state-of-the-art forensics tools and unmatched expertise to crime scenes. The vehicle will be available to travel to assist national and local law enforcement in their efforts to build cases against and prosecute animal cruelty offenders. The mobile unit is fully outfitted to allow Dr. Merck to examine and care for animals found at suspected crime scenes, and includes a surgical suite for animals in need of urgent care.
“I’m proud to be at the wheel of this mobile unit that will allow the evidence gathered at crime scenes to be processed more efficiently,” said Dr. Melinda Merck. “The ability to work on-site with the necessary equipment and tools, rather than transporting animals as well as other evidence, will reduce the stress placed on the animals that are the innocent “collateral victims” in such situations. It will also provide a proven chain of custody for law enforcement, thus ensuring the integrity of the evidence.”
Breaking New Ground: The ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Institute
The ASPCA will break ground on the nation’s first Anti-Cruelty Institute in New York in 2008. This institute will be dedicated to educating veterinarians and law enforcement officials with specialized training necessary to recognize and respond to animal cruelty. The facility, scheduled to open in 2010, will include a forensic laboratory and veterinary hospital, a treatment center for animals that are victims of cruelty, as well as educational training and other programs.
“The ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Institute will allow us to set even higher standards in the recognition, prevention and fight against animal cruelty the commitment on which our organization was founded,” said Sayres. “The Institute will bring together the best and brightest animal welfare respondents from around the world, in an environment where they can most benefit from the ASPCA’s unique breadth and depth of animal welfare/anti-cruelty expertise. The Institute will truly help us take the fight against animal cruelty to a new level.”
For more information about how to help fight animal cruelty, please visit http://www.fightcruelty.org/.