2001-Sat Dec 03 08:41:47 EST 2016
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Call it CSI — for animals. The
New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ newest hire is
forensic veterinarian Dr. Ernie Rogers, DVM, Ph.D., an expert in investigating animal abuse and solving crimes against dogs,
cats and the occasional alligator.
He’s also the first employee with that title on the agency’s payroll.
At a time when few industries are gaining jobs, animal welfare officials say that veterinary forensics and animal crime scene investigators are bright spots in the field. The SPCA credits the upswing to shows like Animal Planet’s Animal Cops, as well as heightened media coverage of abuse cases.
As he joins the agency’s law enforcement division, we chatted with Dr. Rogers about what it means to be a forensic veterinarian — and the crimes against animal-kind he helps solve on a day-to-day basis.
A: Dr. Ernie Rogers: "I went to medical school and got my degree in veterinary medicine, and then I got a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology. I'd always wanted to work with the police force, so I started by working with police dogs.
Part of what you need is a scientist who can view the crimes from the point of view of an animal: Is it poisoned? What was it poisoned with? How long has it been dead? How long has it been decomposed? That’s normally what a medical examiner does, but that’s what I do."
A: "People are becoming more and more aware of animal crime and how it affects their lives. A lot of animals that have been stolen out of yards have been used as baiting animals in dog fighting, for example. There's also 'trunking,' which is when they put two dogs in the trunk of a car and drive around. Then they open the trunk and the last dog living is the 'winner.' ”
A: "I have a full-time veterinary practice, but when there is an incident, the police department will get in touch with me and say, 'Doc, I have this case. Do you think this is abuse?'
For example, there was a horse left out in a snowy field without any water, and the owner said, 'It doesn’t matter; he can eat snow.' But when I did the calculations, I realized that he would have to eat 250 feet of snow every day because snow is a lot less nutritious than water."
A: "We had a guy who stabbed his girlfriend’s cat to get back at her. People who do these things aren’t far behind doing other bad things. If you’re willing to take life from an animal, what else are you willing to do?
I had a case many years ago where an animal was shot in the head and it died instantly. I got the bullet, and when the officer took it to his lab, the forensic evidence tied the gun and bullets to two other human murders. I also have a case involving alligators and dogs. It’s an ongoing investigation, so I can’t say more, but that’s the most unusual animal I’ve had the opportunity to deal with."
A: Well, I think there’s been a thing put out there that’s a bit of a misnomer. Most vets put themselves in places where they want to help people, whether that’s law enforcement or healing a sick animal. I just happen to have a badge that helps me get into crime scenes."
A: "It's good in some ways, and it’s bad in some ways. I know my partner will get called into a situation because one neighbor doesn’t like the other, so they'll call the animal cops to get him. In the other sense, some people are more willing to go out on a limb now and say, 'I saw my neighbor kicking his dog. He can’t walk, and he’s so emaciated.' ”
A: "The NJ SPCA doesn’t receive tax dollars, so we appreciate anyone who can help us by raising funds. There is a 2012 calendar — and I’m actually in it. I have my clothes on though."
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
We scoured our database of 1.1 million
dogs to find out which male and female
monikers reigned supreme this past…
Christmas trees, fatty foods and other
seasonal items may bring cheer to your
home, but they'll cause harm to your…
Dr. Sarah Wooten takes a closer look at
this curious sleeping habit and what it has
to do with canines’ ancestry.
The Kromfohrlander is said to be
descended from a mixed-breed dog
who was a mascot for American troops.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.