County Animal Services Hosts Veterinary Forensics Training

County Animal Services Hosts Veterinary Forensics Training

The Loudoun County Department of Animal Services is sponsoring a veterinary forensics training related to the recognition and prosecution of crimes against animals, highlighting the link between animal abuse and domestic violence. The two-day seminar was originally scheduled for October, but has been rescheduled to mid January.

Dr. Melinda Merck

The multi-discipline training, “Crime Scene to Courtroom,” is open to the public with preference given to Northern Virginia animal welfare professionals, including veterinarians, law enforcement personnel, and attorneys.

The two-day training will be led by leading forensic veterinarian Dr. Melinda Merck and Botetourt County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Gillian Deegan.

Deegan has specialized in animal cruelty and neglect cases in her county and has also received veterinary training as a volunteer at a vet clinic, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Merck assists investigators of animal cruelty with crime scene investigation, the examination of live and deceased victims as well as skeletal animal remains. She also helps with large scale operations including exhumations of burial sites. She frequently testifies as a veterinary forensic expert for animal cruelty cases around the country including cases involving animal fighting, neglect and trauma, according to her website.

Topics of the training include:

  • Veterinary Forensic Science and Medicine
  • Evidence Collection and Packaging
  • Recognizing and Reporting Animal Cruelty

The training is scheduled for Jan. 12, and 13 at 16600 Courage Court in Leesburg. The cost is $60. Anyone who was unable to register for the previously scheduled October training is encouraged to register for the January seminar.