Animal Forensics: Animal Crime Scene Processing | Centre for Veterinary Education

Animal Forensics: Animal Crime Scene Processing

In recent years, both state and federal laws pertaining to animal cruelty have evolved significantly.

Actions that were previously considered non-offenses are now being prosecuted on misdemeanor and felony levels.

Because these convictions can carry significant sentences, juries expect to see the same level of crime scene processing and evidence handling that would be applied to crimes against humans. This course is an introduction to animal crime scene investigations. The purpose of the course is to give participants an overview of procedures and protocols used when processing an animal crime scene and various types of associated evidence.

This course is open to any professional involved in the investigation of crimes against animals, including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, animal control officers, non-governmental animal welfare organizations, wildlife and conservation officials, and law enforcement officers. 

Please note: The estimated time to complete this course is 15–20 hours, therefore the course will be open for 8 weeks. This course is the first in the three-part animal forensics series. Part 2 and 3 will be delivered in 2018.

Course Partner:

Learning Outcomes

At the successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Know how to approach a crime scene in a safe and cautious manner in order to minimize the loss or damage of evidence.

  • Be able to properly document the scene through various methods, conduct a search of the scene, and properly collect and package evidence.

  • Understand various processing and presumptive test methods that can be utilized at the scene and gain a basic understanding of the types of laboratory testing that may be available.

  • Understand the types of evidence that can be expected on various types of animal scenes, additional documentation that may be necessary and case studies given as example of what forensic science can offer in the prosecution of animal offenses.


  1. Processing the Crime Scene

  2. Evidence

  3. Forensic Photography

  4. Forensic Entomology & Forensic Botany

  5. Genetic Methodologies (DNA)

  6. Blood, Serology, Ballistics 

Course Delivery

The course comes with:

  • Video lectures with relevant case studies and photographs.

  • Self-assessed quizzes and multiple choice assessments to test your knowledge and understanding.

  • A discussion forum for conversation, debate and information exchange with your peers and tutors.

  • An electronic certificate available for download upon successful completion of the course.

The estimated time to complete this course is 15-20 hours. The course will be open for 8 weeks. 

RACE approved for 20 CE hours

This program was reviewed and approved by the AAVSB RACE program for 20 hours of continuing education. Participants should be aware that some boards have limitations on the number of hours accepted in certain categories and/or restrictions on certain methods of delivery of continuing education. Please contact the AAVSB RACE program if you have any comments/concerns regarding this program’s validity or relevancy to the veterinary profession.

Limited places remaining


Monday 16 October - Sunday 10 December 2017
Delivered Online



Susan Underkoffler, MFS, holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Biology and Scientific Illustration from Arcadia University and a Master of Forensic Science degree from Drexel University College of Medicine. She has developed an animal forensic science track at Drexel University College of Medicine, offered as part of their graduate forensics program. She spent many years as Forensics Manager for the Pennsylvania SPCA, where she developed the first Forensics Unit and handled all forensic responsibilities associated with humane law enforcement animal cruelty cases including crime scene documentation, evidence collection and processing, animal forensic exams, necropsies and courtroom preparation, along with assuming veterinary technician responsibilities and management of a court case animal fostering program. She developed and participates in community advocacy initiatives including the establishment of a Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force. She also previously worked as an analyst and researcher in the toxicology and criminalistics departments at NMS Laboratories and Fraunhofer Center for Molecular Biotechnology and was an environmental scientist performing wetland delineations, Phase I site assessments, and wildlife monitoring in both Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Susan has traveled nationally as a professional consultant and educator for animal cruelty investigations. She has conducted international research in several African countries, including primate behaviour and habitat conservation in Equatorial Guinea, Africa, and elephant tracking, censusing and behaviour monitoring in Namibia, Africa. She also studied elephant social behaviour at the Philadelphia Zoo. She has published scientific articles and biological and scientific illustrations in numerous publications. Susan is active in many professional organizations including the Society for Conservation Biology, Animal Behavior Society, Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, Association of Women in Forensic Science, American Academy of Forensic Science, and the International Association for Identification, and she currently serves on the Board of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association. She also serves on the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Animal Response Teams. 


Jason Byrd is the Associate Director of the William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine. At the University of Florida, he instructs courses in forensic science at the University of Florida’s nationally recognized Hume Honors College. He is a Board Certified Forensic Entomologist and Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Entomology. He was twice elected President of the American Board of Forensic Entomology, and is a Past-President of the North American Forensic Entomology Association. He is the first person to be elected President of both professional North American Forensic Entomology Associations. He served for over a decade as a faculty member of the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine.

Outside of academia Jason serves within the National Disaster Medical System, Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, Region IV. He also serves as the Logistics Chief for the Florida Emergency Mortuary Operations Response System. Currently he serves as a subject editor for the Journal of Medical Entomology. He has published numerous scientific articles on the use and application of entomological evidence in legal investigations. Jason has combined his formal academic training in Entomology and Forensic Science to serve as a consultant and educator in both criminal and civil legal investigations throughout the United States and Internationally. Jason specialises in the education of law enforcement officials, medical examiners, coroners, attorneys, and other death investigators on the use and applicability of arthropods in legal investigations. His research efforts have focused on the development and behaviour of insects that have forensic importance, and he has over 15 years experience in the collection and analysis of entomological evidence. Jason Byrd is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and serves as the Director of Education for the ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program at the University of Florida. 

Course Fees

Member TypeTimeOnline
Recent Grad / Part-time Member$289
Student Member$145
Non-member / eMember$578
*Members include: Practice, Professional and Academic members

Please note: All course fees will be charged in Australian dollars.

Further details

Have a question? Your answer could be on our frequently asked questions page. If you cannot find an answer for your question, please email us or call us on +61 2 9351 7979.