The current VIN date & time: Eastern

MULT214-0323: Advanced Veterinary Forensics

The lectures for this course will be presented via the Zoom webinar platform.

Presenters: Jennifer Woolf, DVM, MS (Veterinary Forensics) (Course Coordinator)
Patricia Norris, DVM, MS (Veterinary Forensics)
Julie Brinker, DVM MS (Veterinary Forensics)
Amy Raines, DVM, MS (Veterinary Forensics)
Shelby Kimura, BSc, BVSc, MRCVS, MS (Veterinary Forensics)
J. Bruce Robertson, DVM
Alina Vale, DVM, MS (Veterinary Forensics)
Tabitha Viner, DVM, DACVP
Rebecca Kagan, DVM, DACVP
Course Open: March 1-April 22, 2023
Real Time Sessions (RTS): Wednesdays, March 8, 15, 22, 29, April 5, and 12, 2023; 8:00-10:00 pm ET (USA) World Clock Converter
Total CE Credit: 12
RACE Category: 12 hours Medical

Enroll Now  

Tuition: Member $276 ($248 early bird special if enrolled by February 15, 2023)
Non-Member $413 ($372 early bird special if enrolled by February 15, 2023)
Prices are listed in US dollars.

Course Information:
This course is designed for those who already have a basic knowledge of veterinary forensics and animal abuse investigations. There will be a deeper dive into the four categories of abuse the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) is now tracking: animal sexual abuse, organized fighting, simple and gross neglect with an emphasis on animal hoarding and puppy mills, and intentional abuse and torture. There will also be an in-depth look into investigating animal shelters and rescues, animal abuse of horses and livestock, and wildlife forensics, in addition to abuse of companion animals.

Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of the course, the participant should be able to
  • Week 1: Investigating Animal Shelters/Animal Sexual Abuse
    • identify allegations animal abuse/neglect or other wrong-doing pertaining to an animal shelter/rescue.
    • formulate a plan of investigation of the allegations and whether other aspects should be included.
    • identify the traditional components of an animal abuse/neglect investigation at a shelter/rescue.
    • identify additional and complicating aspects of the investigation of a shelter/rescue.
    • identify additional areas of inquiry for the investigation and the appropriate partnering agencies to investigate these areas.

  • Week 2: Organized Animal Fighting Investigation
    • identify the characteristic housing formats for fighting animals while they are involved in organized fighting.
    • recognize items/evidence found on a scene that can indicate organized animal fighting.
    • identify the characteristic wound patterns caused by organized animal fighting.
    • identify physical characteristics of animals used for fighting as compared to similar types not used for fighting.
    • understand the behavioral characteristics of fighting animals and how they affect housing needs after confiscation.
    • understand the factors to be considered when deciding how and where to rehome confiscated fighting animals.
    • demonstrate stress management and stress reduction.

  • Week 3: Animal Hoarding/Puppy Mills
    • definition of Hoarding DSM-5.
    • definition of Animal Hoarding.
    • types of animal hoarding.
    • common environmental conditions and evidence.
    • common companion animal diseases and conditions encountered.
    • role of Veterinarian on scene and at the shelter.
    • role of Private Practitioner History of the commercial dog breeder industry.
    • expectations of a commercial operation/Inspection criteria.
    • common violations/evidence encountered at puppy mills.

  • Week 4: Intentional Abuse and Torture
    • understand signs of blunt force trauma, sharp force trauma, burns, gunshot wounds, poisonings, Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, and drowning and asphyxia.
    • know how to document these sorts of injuries and collect evidence.

  • Week 5: Equine and Large Animal Abuse
    • adapt the provided forensic investigation model to their own jurisdiction and animal protection legislation.
    • use the forensic investigation model to differentiate between acceptable agricultural practices and abuse, as well as determining minimum standards of care.
    • recognize signs of equine abuse or neglect, and how to report concerns.
    • assess a horse and the environment it is living in.
    • recognize when it may be appropriate to provide owner education and monitoring of a situation.
    • utilize provided tips for working with equine rescue organizations and improving access to veterinary care in a community.

  • Week 6: Wildlife Abuse
    • develop the ability to formulate a plan for post-mortem diagnostic work-up and proper reporting of wildlife cases.
    • understand what constitutes malfeasance where non-domestic animals are concerned.

Level and Prerequisites: This intermediate VIN CE course is open for enrollment to veterinarians interested in advanced veterinary forensic topics.
Credit Approval: This course is approved for 12 hours of continuing education credit by RACE for veterinarians. (RACE 20-930935)

Course Agenda:

Week 1 (Real Time Session March 8, 2023): Investigating Animal Shelters/Animal Sexual Abuse
Presenters: Patricia Norris, DVM, MS
The first part of the presentation will focus on the very delicate and potentially politically-charged investigation into allegations of animal abuse and/or neglect committed within the operation of animal shelters and rescues. The assumption is that the basics of animal abuse/neglect investigations are understood prior to participating in this lecture. This lecture will focus on features of cruelty/neglect investigations that are unique to this environment. It will touch on aspects that need to be considered that are not typically a part of general animal investigations. It will also discuss other agencies that may be partnered with during extensive investigations into shelters and rescues.
Then we will explore the challenges of the recognition, documentation, treatment, and prosecution of animal sexual abuse (“ASA”). An overview of the variability of laws pertaining to ASA and the difficulties of prosecution will be given. As many of the visible signs of ASA can be difficult to distinguish from naturally occurring diseases and medical conditions of animals, common rule-outs will be discussed. The do’s and don’ts upon initial presentation of a case will also be examined. Proper diagnostics, sampling and laboratory techniques will be reviewed. Documentation and report writing of ASA cases will also be discussed.

Week 2 (Real Time Session March 15, 2023): Organized Animal Fighting Investigation
Presenters: Julie Brinker, DVM MS
Organized dog and cock fighting create significant problems for the animals involved. This session will cover the differences between animals bred for fighting and those who are not and how those differences affect their care. This includes physical, behavioral, and husbandry distinctions as well as differentiating wounds caused by organized fights compared to those caused by incidental aggressive interactions.

Week 3 (Real Time Session March 22, 2023): Animal Hoarding/Puppy Mills
Presenters: Amy Raines, DVM, MS
* Animal Hoarding - Animal hoarding is a common form of neglect involving a large number of animals. This failure to provide for the basic needs of pets presents a unique challenge to law enforcement and veterinarians due to the human mental health component and the 100% recidivism rate that commonly occurs with animal hoarding. This session will discuss the human and animal health and welfare side of animal hoarding.
* Puppy Mills - Animal neglect is the most common form of animal abuse. Puppy Mills, or commercial dog breeders are often prosecuted for the neglect of large numbers of animals. Puppy mills are also prosecuted for consumer fraud when the sale of underage or sick infant animals are sold to unsuspecting consumers. This session will discuss the history of commercial dog breeders, their legal responsibility as licensed commercial breeders, and how their failure to provide appropriate care affects animal health and welfare.

Week 4 (Real Time Session March 29, 2023): Intentional Abuse and Torture
Presenters: Shelby Kimura, BSc, BVSc, MRCVS, MS and J Bruce Robertson, DVM
This lecture will review the terminologies used to describe the various types of blunt force trauma, sharp force trauma, gunshot wounds, burns, poisoning, Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy, and drowning and asphyxiation as well as a discussion on how to work up forensic cases of these types.

Week 5 (Real Time Session April 5, 2023): Equine Abuse/Food Animal Forensics
Presenters: Alina Vale, DVM, MS and Bruce Robertson, DVM
Small animal, shelter, and welfare veterinarians may be called upon to assist in food animal and equine forensic cases. Sometimes equine and large animal veterinarians may be reluctant to become involved with cases due to fear of losing clients or unfamiliarity with the legal process.
Part 1: Equine Abuse – In this lecture, we will discuss society's view of the use of horses and common concerns of abuse of horses used for work or sport. Then we will focus on signs of equine abuse and neglect, how to report concerns, and how to assess a horse and the environment it is living in. Resources will be shared to guide veterinarians in addressing and preventing equine welfare cases in the community.
Part 2: Food Animal Forensics - In this lecture, we will focus on the use of Codes of Practice as a way of differentiating between acceptable agricultural practices and abuse as well as determining minimum standards of care. Participants will be provided with a forensic investigation model that can be adapted to their own jurisdiction and animal protection legislation.

Week 6 (Real Time Session April 12, 2023): Wildlife Abuse
Presenters: Tabitha Viner, DVM, DACVP and Rebecca Kagan, DVM, DACVP
* Gunshot and Trauma from a Wild Perspective
* Toxicology and Wildlife Law
This two-part lecture on wildlife forensics emphasizes mortality causes and legal concerns specific to wildlife forensics. Traumatic injuries will cover blunt and sharp force trauma as well as gunshot, traps, and mortalities associated with energy production. Part 2 will detail the acute toxicities that most commonly affect wildlife and United States laws as they apply to wild animals.

Successful completion (scoring 80% or better) on the end-of-course test is required to earn a certificate of completion for the course. To learn more about the requirements for earning a CE certificate, please refer to Receiving Your CE Credit and Course Completion Certificate.

Course Materials: Course materials will be available in the course library prior to each Real Time Session.
Required Textbook(s): There is no required textbook for this course.

Enroll Now  

Tuition: Member $276 ($248 early bird special if enrolled by February 15, 2023))
Non-Member $413 ($372 early bird special if enrolled by February 15, 2023))
Prices are listed in US dollars.

*To ensure participants are ready and prepared for classes, enrollment will close on March 8, at 5 pm ET (USA) or when the maximum number of participants is reached.

*For more information on how online CE works, see the Participant Resource Center.

Enrollment qualifications:
  1. VIN CE Courses:
    1. VIN CE courses are open to VIN member, VIN student member, and non-member veterinarians.
    2. Veterinary support staff must be VSPN members in order to enroll in a VIN CE course open to VSPN member enrollment.
  2. VSPN CE Courses:
    1. VSPN CE courses are open to veterinary support staff and veterinarians.
    2. Only VIN and VSPN members can enroll in a VSPN CE course.
    3. Veterinarians will only receive credit for those VSPN CE courses that specify in the Accreditation statement that the course is accredited for veterinarians.
  3. Please check the course Level and Prerequisites, Accreditation, and Tuition before enrolling.
  4. Each enrollee must be able to receive emails from and addresses.
    1. Email is our major form of communication with participants; personal emails are highly recommended rather than clinic/hospital email addresses.
  5. For further assistance call 800-846-0028 ext. 797 or email Please include the course title, your full name, and contact information in your correspondence.

Course withdrawal and refund policy: A complete refund of the paid course price will be issued when your withdrawal request is received prior to the listed start date of the course. If you wish to withdraw after the start date please contact the VIN office 800-846-0028 ext. 797 to discuss eligibility for a pro-rated refund.

*For more information on VIN's upcoming CE courses, check the VIN Course Catalog.

Katherine James, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (SAIM)
VIN Education Director

VIN CE Services:
800-846-0028 or 530-756-4881; ext. 797
or direct line to VIN/VSPN from the United Kingdom: 01 45 222 6154
or direct line to VIN/VSPN from Australia: 02 6145 2357