Forensic Pathology

Microscopy objective & slide Bone section Xray

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.

What is a forensic necropsy?

A forensic necropsy is a step-by-step examination of the body of an animal and the medical findings are used as evidence in legal proceedings. The pathologist will evaluate the animal for injuries and disease and may take samples of tissue or bodily fluids for additional testing.  Forensic necropsy examinations take several hours to complete.

What types of cases are submitted for a forensic necropsy?

  • Gunshot wounds
  • Stab wounds
  • Blunt force trauma
  • Asphyxia (strangulation, drowning)
  • Death in a fire
  • Indication or suspicion of neglect

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

  • Written report
  • Photo documentation
  • 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, it is recommended that 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.

For more information about the forensic pathology service please contact:

  • Dr. Adam W. Stern , DVM, DACVP, 352-294-4077

Faculty Profile:   Adam W. Stern, Associate Professor – Forensic Pathology

Submission Form:  Forensic Necropsy Request Form