The ASPCA’s CSI response vehicle—a 2010 Subaru Outback generously donated by Subaru of America, Inc.—is customized specifically for our Veterinary Forensics team and is outfitted with many custom features, including a slide-out cargo floor, evidence refrigerator, and advanced electronics and lighting that include a laptop computer station and exterior power outlets. The vehicle is based at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville with Dr. Melinda Merck, ASPCA Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics.
The CSI response vehicle is used for field work - transporting animal victims, storing evidence from crime scene investigations and providing access to areas that are typically off-limits due to challenging terrain. Perhaps most importantly, as we recently learned, it provides our forensics team the opportunity to be in two places at one time!
For example, on September 7, in what is one of the largest cockfighting raids in Florida history, the ASPCA assisted with the removal of 678 fighting roosters, hens and chicks, three horses and two dogs from two separate properties in Fort Myers. The ASPCA led the collection of forensic evidence for the investigation of a criminal case. The CSI response vehicle proved invaluable as it allowed our experts to divide and conquer, collecting the evidence necessary to arrest and charge, and hopefully secure a conviction, at two different locations at the same time.
The ASPCA’s Dr Melinda Merck and Adam Leah (Lee County Domestic Animal Services) talk to reporters about the cockfighting raid in front of Lee County Domestic Animal Services (Fort Myers, FL). Photos courtesy Mike Bizelli for the ASPCA.
In addition, the unique role of the Subaru-donated CSI response vehicle in the ASPCA’s fight against animal cruelty is highlighted during the tours and training provided to visiting groups of students and professionals. College students, masters’ program participants and established veterinarians come from across the country to learn the proper techniques for documentation of forensic evidence and crime scene processing. Lastly, as it is one of a kind, the vehicle is often solicited for museum and conference exhibits.
Dr Jason Byrd, Associate Director of Veterinary Forensics at the University of Florida, at the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association Conference (May, 2010)
New Subaru CSI vehicle unveiled in May 2010 at the Third Annual Veterinary Forensics Conference (Orlando, FL)