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Animal DNA Helping To Solve Crimes

People are familiar with animals helping out in searching for victims of crimes or natural disasters, as the cadaver dogs pictured here during the search and rescue efforts after a deadly mudslide in Oso, Wash., last year. But the emerging field of veterinary forensics can help solve crimes using animal DNA. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
People are familiar with animals helping out in searching for victims of crimes or natural disasters, as the cadaver dogs pictured here during the search and rescue efforts after a deadly mudslide in Oso, Wash., last year. But the emerging field of veterinary forensics can help solve crimes using animal DNA. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When you watch detective shows you see police dogs sniffing out the crime scene or dogs leading police to the crime scene.

But what if your pet could help solve crimes by just being around?

Vicki Croke of The Wild Life blog tells Here & Now’s Robin Young the emerging field of veterinary forensics is helping crack human crimes and crimes against animals.

“Even a single dog or cat hair can act like a department store tag, which can tie criminals to the crime they’ve committed,” Croke said. “And people in law enforcement have realized, ‘You know what, here is a good opportunity to grab some physical evidence.'”

And it’s not just hair: it’s feces, saliva and other things pets shed that carry their DNA.

Croke says animal DNA is profiled similarly to human DNA. Then the crime lab conducts a probability test to determine how likely it is that the DNA comes from any other animal in the area.

Guest

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