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Veterinarians join war on cruelty: Univ. of Florida offers veterinary forensic science course.

The field of veterinary forensics is growing. In 2008, the International Veterinary Forensic Science Association was founded; it will hold its third annual conference on veterinary forensics in Orlando, Florida, in May 2010. However, as yet, veterinary colleges provide little training in animal cruelty investigations for veterinary students. It's tragic when testimony from a veterinarian can make the difference between a conviction or an acquittal in a cruelty case, and there are no qualified vets available to testify. Fortunately, educational resources for this area of expertise are about to get a boost.

The University of Florida has announced that in spring, under the guidance of Melinda Merck, DVM, senior director of veterinary forensics at the ASPCA, it will launch the nation's first formal veterinary forensic science program. Dr. Merck assisted with the investigation into Michael Vick's dogfighting activities, and her expertise helped put the NFL quarterback in prison. She is helping develop the University's certificate program, which is part of its online master's degree program in forensic science. The course will help veterinarians learn to recognize crimes against animals, and give them the tools to respond appropriately.

Approximately a dozen states mandate veterinarians to report suspicions of animal cruelty. Merck believes that even in those states where vets are not mandated reporters, they have a moral imperative to report.

According to Dr. Randall Lockwood, Ph.D., senior vice president of anti-cruelty field services at the ASPCA, a number of surveys indicate that every veterinarian will confront animal cruelty at some point in his/her career. - Pat Miller

For more information: vetmed.ufl.edu/

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Title Annotation:CANINE NEWS YOU CAN USE
Author:Miller, Pat
Publication:Whole Dog Journal
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2009
Words:263
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