The ASPCA unveiled the nationâ€™s first-ever â€œMobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit,â€ a specially-designed vehicle outfitted with state-of-the-art forensics tools as well as medical equipment tailored for animal patients. A â€œforensics first,â€ the â€œAnimal CSIâ€ vehicle was created to significantly advance the prosecution of animal cruelty and help strengthen cases against offenders by incorporating the emerging field of veterinary forensics in crime scene investigations. The ASPCA also announced plans to break ground next year on the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Institute.
â€œTime and time again we see that our nationâ€™s most appalling criminals have a history of abusing animalsâ€”that animal cruelty and human cruelty are indelibly linkedâ€”and the ASPCA is committed to providing resources and training to stop these crimes in their tracks,â€ said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres. â€œThe Mobile Animal CSI unit and the Anti-Cruelty Institute are two new milestones in our ongoing fight against animal cruelty.â€
The mobile forensic vehicle will operate under the leadership of the nationâ€™s premier forensic veterinarian and â€œanimal CSI,â€ the ASPCAâ€™s Dr. Melinda Merck, and bring both state-of-the-art forensics tools and unmatched expertise to crime scenes. The vehicle will be available to travel to assist national and local law enforcement in their efforts to build cases against and prosecute animal cruelty offenders. The mobile unit is fully outfitted to allow Dr. Merck to examine and care for animals found at suspected crime scenes, and includes a surgical suite for animals in need of urgent care.
â€œIâ€™m proud to be at the wheel of this mobile unit that will allow the evidence gathered at crime scenes to be processed more efficiently,â€ said Dr. Melinda Merck. â€œThe ability to work on-site with the necessary equipment and tools, rather than transporting animals as well as other evidence, will reduce the stress placed on the animals that are the innocent â€œcollateral victimsâ€ in such situations. It will also provide a proven chain of custody for law enforcement, thus ensuring the integrity of the evidence.â€
The ASPCA will break ground on the nationâ€™s first Anti-Cruelty Institute in New York in 2008. This institute will be dedicated to educating veterinarians and law enforcement officials with specialized training necessary to recognize and respond to animal cruelty. The facility, scheduled to open in 2010, will include a forensic laboratory and veterinary hospital, a treatment center for animals that are victims of cruelty, as well as educational training and other programs.
â€œThe ASPCAâ€™s Anti-Cruelty Institute will allow us to set even higher standards in the recognition, prevention and fight against animal cruelty â€“ the commitment on which our organization was founded,â€ said Sayres. â€œThe Institute will bring together the best and brightest animal welfare respondents from around the world, in an environment where they can most benefit from the ASPCAâ€™s unique breadth and depth of animal welfare/anti-cruelty expertise. The Institute will truly help us take the fight against animal cruelty to a new level.â€