THE ANIMAL DOE PROJECT

The Animal Doe Project provides veterinary forensic services for cases involving unknown animals found harmed or dead in our communities. The investigation of suspected animal cruelty crimes resides in a space that creates uncertainties for investigators. Most jurisdictions do not employ a forensic veterinarian to assist in the investigation of animal cruelty crimes, and many do not have allocated funds to cover the expenses related to such investigations. ln some cases a municipality or another organization can pay on their behalf; this is especially true in cases where there is a suspect to be charged and/or the animal is known to be property of an individual in the community.

Where the investigation of possible animal cruelty has a serious gap is those cases where there is no suspect yet, or the unknown animal has been discarded {in the water, state park, side of the road}. The Animal Doe project seeks funds to cover payment for investigations where the local investigating agency cannot provide funds and another organization will not be stepping in to provide payment, especially when the animal’s identity is unknown. Further investigation can elucidate whether in fact a crime has occurred; a surprising number of these unknown cases can be solved if they are examined. Even if cases aren’t solved, some worthwhile information is gathered and reported that can assist in understanding animal maltreatment in our society.

FVI, LLC has partnered with Chappy & Friends to sustain The Animal Doe Project. Chappy & Friends is a nationwide 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor for animal welfare projects. Think of them as an “incubator” for those seeking to impact the animal kingdom in positive ways.  Chappy & Friends can accept tax deductible charitable donations to support Animal Doe investigations. They can also act as a fiscal sponsor for grant monies. Please consider making a donation today!

Animal control officers, department of public works employees, veterinarians or animal shelter employees who have found a discarded dead animal, or injured stray animal and are seeking veterinary, are encouraged to use the Contact Us page to submit a request for examination.

HISTORY:

Dr. Smith-Blackmore was engaged in a research project called "Crimes Against Canines", investigating the cause of harm to dogs found dead or injured in Massachusetts in 2015 - 2016. Necropsy or live dog exams were performed at no cost to the submitting entity.  All suspicious deaths were reported to the police as required by Massachusetts State Law.

Dr. Smith-Blackmore sought to investigate the following:  Are possible victim dogs being denied veterinary forensic exams and, if so, why; will offering free forensic exams identify more cases of dog abuse; and will a more thorough forensic exam better describe what a harmed dog may have suffered and increase criminal justice processes on behalf of harmed dogs.

Her hypothesis was that a lack of knowledge and services at the ground level prevents cases from being identified or elevated to the criminal justice system. Her assessments were substantiated: the system would benefit from a paradigm shift in which expert veterinary evaluation is made available for cases of suspected abuse. No other research has attempted to quantify un-investigated abuse of dogs, or barriers to investigation and prosecution, in Massachusetts or elsewhere. This project made an important contribution to the base understanding in the evolving field of veterinary forensics.

During this fellowship period, in addition to the research, Dr. Smith-Blackmore trained and collaborated at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Massachusetts, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and the forensics programs at Boston University School of Medicine to increase her knowledge of anatomic pathology and forensic techniques. This helped her to better identify signs of animal cruelty and non-accidental injury when reviewing veterinary reports and other evidence uncovered as part of legal research and clinical investigations.

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