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Forensic cases of suspected dog and cat abuse in the Community of Madrid (Spain), 2014-2019

Investigation article published in Forensic Science International

November 1st, 2020

Companion animal abuse is an issue that concerns not only veterinarians and law enforcement agencies but also society in general. Animals that die under suspicious or violent circumstances should be submitted to reference laboratories for a postmortem examination by veterinary forensic pathologists trained to recognize animal abuse. Nevertheless, the low notification rate of such cases in Spain may explain the country’s lag in the development of veterinary forensics and the limited information available on animal abuse epidemiology in comparison with other countries. By sharing information among the entities involved in recognizing animal abuse, we can better address these issues, thus improving veterinary forensics in Spain (and elsewhere). In this study, we analysed the cause and manner of death of 96 dog and cat carcasses suspected of animal abuse. These cases were submitted to our diagnostic laboratory for forensic postmortem examination by public agencies and animal protection centres. To our knowledge, this is the first study to focus on the postmortem analysis of forensic cases of suspected dog and cat abuse in Spain. On the basis of gross and histopathological findings, we distinguished between natural and non-natural abuse-related deaths, classifying the latter. We confirmed that most of the dog deaths were related with abuse, though the suspected abuse and the cause of death did not always coincide. In contrast, cause of death was determined to be natural in many of the cat suspected abuse cases. The most frequent non-natural abuse related cause of death in dogs was blunt force trauma (n = 24, 43.64%), followed by firearm injuries (n = 10, 18.18%), asphyxia (n = 5, 9.09%), heatstroke (n = 3, 5.45%), starvation (n = 2, 3.64%), bite injury (n = 1, 1.82%), and sharp force trauma (n = 1, 1.82%). In cats, the most common cause of death was blunt force trauma (n = 9, 21.95%), followed by firearm injuries (n = 3, 7.32%) and bite injury (n = 2, 4.88%). The main goal of our study is to share our results with the scientific community to advance the field of veterinary forensics in Spain, which will lead to more successful prosecutions by law enforcement agencies. Finally, we highlight that veterinarians who can accurately recognize signs of animal abuse may be able to better respond to cases of companion animal cruelty, which in turn, may prevent possible escalation to interpersonal violence.




Rebollada A., Barcena C., Mayoral-Alegre F., Garcia-Real I., Dominguez L. and Rodriguez-Bertos A..




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Forensic cases of suspected dog and cat abuse in the Community of Madrid (Spain), 2014-2019

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Forensic cases of suspected dog and cat abuse in the Community of Madrid (Spain), 2014-2019


Participants:

Universidad ComplutenseServicio de Patología y Veterinaria Forense (SAP). Centro de Vigilancia Sanitaria Veterinaria (VISAVET). Universidad Complutense (UCM).

Universidad ComplutenseDepartamento de Medicina y Cirugía Animal. Facultad de Veterinaria. Universidad Complutense (UCM).

Universidad ComplutenseDepartamento de Sanidad Animal. Facultad de Veterinaria. Universidad Complutense (UCM).



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Forensic Science International
FACTOR YEAR Q
2.108 2019

NLMID: 7902034

PMID: 33038828

ISSN: 0379-0738



TITLE: Forensic cases of suspected dog and cat abuse in the Community of Madrid (Spain), 2014-2019


JOURNAL: Forensic Sci.Int.


NUMERACIÓN: 316:110522


AÑO: 2020


PUBLISHER: Elsevier


AUTHORS: Rebollada A., Barcena C., Mayoral-Alegre F., Garcia-Real I., Dominguez L. and Rodriguez-Bertos A..


VISAVET PARTICIPANTS


First
Agustín Miguel Rebollada Merino
2nd
Carmen Bárcena Asensio
5th
Lucas Domínguez Rodríguez
Last
Antonio Manuel Rodríguez Bertos

DOI: https://doi.org/ 10.1016/j.forsciint.2020.110522


CITE THIS PUBLICATION:

Rebollada A., Barcena C., Mayoral-Alegre F., Garcia-Real I., Dominguez L. and Rodriguez-Bertos A. Forensic cases of suspected dog and cat abuse in the Community of Madrid (Spain), 2014-2019. Forensic Science International. 316:110522. 2020. (A). ISSN: 0379-0738. DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2020.110522


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