For one year, starting the summer of 2015 Dr. Smith-Blackmore will be engaged in a research project investigating the cause of harm to dogs found dead or injured in Massachusetts. If you are an animal control officer, department of public works employee, veterinarian or animal shelter employee who has found a discarded dead dog, or injured stray dog in Massachusetts, please use the Contact Us page to submit a request for examination. The necropsy or live dog exam will be performed at no cost to the submitting entity. All suspicious deaths will be reported to the police as required by Massachusetts State Law.
Dr. Smith-Blackmore seeks 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 prosecutorial success.
Her hypothesis is that a lack of knowledge and services at the ground level prevents cases from being identified or elevated to the criminal justice system. If these assessments are correct, 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 uninvestigated abuse of dogs, or barriers to investigation and prosecution, in Massachusetts or elsewhere. This project should make an important contribution to the base literature in the evolving field of veterinary forensics.
During this fellowship period, in addition to the research, Dr. Smith-Blackmore will be training and collaborating 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 will help 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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