Forensic Pathology

The Veterinary Forensic Pathology Service in the UF Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories is committed to providing forensic services for companion animals, livestock, and wildlife. 

The forensic necropsy is performed in order to answer questions about the death of an animal. Typically these deaths are non-natural, have suspicious circumstances (out of place and time), or there is evidence to suggest foul play.  Information that can be obtained includes cause of death, time of death, collection of trace evidence, and in some instances identification of the animal (species and/or individual).  The findings from a forensic necropsy can help law enforcement agencies during their investigation.

Submission Form:  Forensic Necropsy Request Form

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a forensic autopsy (necropsy)?

A forensic necropsy is a step-by-step A forensic autopsy is a step-by-step postmortem examination of an animal’s body. The pathologist will evaluate the animal for injuries and disease. Samples of tissue and/or bodily fluids can be collected for additional testing including histopathology, microbiological studies, and toxicology.  Forensic autopsies take several hours to complete. A report of examination findings will be compiled.

What is the cost of a forensic necropsy?

The cost of the examination will depend on a variety of factors including type of animal submitted and what tests are requested. Please contact the laboratory and we would be happy to provide you with an estimate.

  • If your case involves a stray dog, your case may be eligible for the A Dog Has No Name program.
  • If your case involves a stray dog, your case may be eligible for the A Cat Has No Name program.

What types of cases are submitted for a forensic necropsy?

There are many types of cases that can be submitted for examination. Examples of cases include:

  • Gunshot injuries
  • Stab wounds
  • Non-accidental injuries
  • Suspected poisoning
  • Fire-related death
  • Neglect
  • Illegal take of wildlife (poaching)
  • Surgical complications

What are some of the services that the forensic pathology service can provide?

  • Written report
  • Photo documentation
  • Alternate light source examination
  • Histologic examination of tissues
  • Forensic imaging studies including computed tomography scan, digital radiography

In addition to forensic necropsy services, we have access to internationally recognized forensic specialists at the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine including forensic entomologists and DNA analysts whom can be consulted with regarding your case, if necessary.

What are the hours of the veterinary forensic pathology service?

The laboratory is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except on university holidays. Prior to the submission of a forensic necropsy, we recommend you contact the diagnostic laboratories to discuss the case so we are able to meet your needs. Requests for forensic necropsy examinations can be submitted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by email. Animals can be dropped off at the laboratory afterhours, if necessary.  Additionally, we request that when submitting a case you fill out the submission form as completely as possible.

Contact Us

For more information about the forensic pathology service please contact:

Dr. Adam W. Stern, Professor of Forensic Pathology, (352) 294-4077.
Jamie Coxon, Necropsy Laboratory Manager, (352) 294-4528

Contact Us

We would like to hear from you. Please fill out this form and we will get in touch with you within 24 hours.

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