Forensic Pathology

Veterinary 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 autopsy (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), and/or there is evidence to suggest foul play. Information that can be obtained from a forensic autopsy includes the cause of death, estimation of the time of death, and when appropriate we can collect of trace evidence. The findings from a forensic autopsy can assist law enforcement agencies during animal cruelty investigations.Dog

The submission form can be found here.

Frequently asked questions

What is a forensic autopsy (forensic necropsy)?

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 autopsy?

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 autopsy?

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

  • Gunshot injuriesXray

  • 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 veterinary forensic pathology service can provide?

  • Written reportsMicroscopy objective & slide

  • Photo documentation

  • Alternate light source examination

  • Histologic examination of tissues

  • Forensic imaging studies including CT scans and digital radiography

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

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 autopsy, it is recommended that you contact the diagnostic laboratories to discuss the case so we are able to meet your needs. Requests for forensic autopsy examinations can be submitted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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, please contact:

Adam W. Stern, Associate Professor of Forensic Pathology   352-294-4077

Manavi Muralidhar, Forensic Laboratory Technician, 352-294-4783

Patrick Knisley, Necropsy and Disposal Manager, 352-294-4528

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