Investigate UF’s Upcoming Animal Forensic Investigations Conference in May  

With animal cruelty cases demanding rigorous evidence collection to bring perpetrators to justice, the field of veterinary forensic sciences has a critical role in the legal system. To give law enforcement agencies, veterinary professionals, and other animal advocates access to the latest investigative research, the University of Florida’s Veterinary Forensic Sciences Laboratory will host the first annual Animal Forensic Investigations Conference on May 20–22, in Gainesville at the Hilton University Conference Center. Spearheaded by Dr. Adam Stern, a leading professor of forensic pathology with the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, the conference will focus on three distinct perspectives: the veterinarian, the investigator, and the attorney. 

Dr. Adam Stern
Dr. Adam Stern

The conference caters to a diverse audience, welcoming both students and professionals from various fields, including law enforcement, animal control officers, veterinarians, shelter veterinarians, veterinarian technicians, attorneys, and animal rescues. Those who are just beginning their professional careers or want to improve in their current role can also benefit from attending the event. 

“This conference is really a way to connect all three components to any animal cruelty investigation,” Dr. Stern said. These cases bring together investigators handling on-site inquiries, lawyers managing the legal proceedings, and veterinarians representing the animals. This conference aims to unite all three groups while educating them simultaneously.  

Dr. Stern structured the three-day conference into half-day mini sessions, each focusing on a specific aspect of the investigation. The full conference agenda and session times are available for attendees to review. For the first day, sessions will emphasize crime scene response, covering best practices and techniques for handling shoe prints, tire marks, and basic photography for evidence documentation.  

Another half day will address pertinent small animal issues, where Dr. Stern will present on small animal poisonings before delving into starvation cases in large animals. A dedicated half day will focus on these larger animals, with a special presentation by Dr. Diego De Gasperi, an large animal surgeon with expertise in horses. The presentation will provide insight from both the investigator and veterinarian perspectives, offering guidance on identifying signs of concern related to dental disease.

“A hot topic right now is marine mammals, so we have someone speaking on issues related to marine mammals and how forensic science can help,” Dr. Stern said. The half-day wildlife session will focus on marine entanglements and other topics related to wildlife crime investigation.  

Legal-focused sessions will feature search warrants and strategies for court readiness, including guidance on testimony preparation and considerations during testimony delivery. 

There will also be networking opportunities for attendees, including an evening social event and poster sessions for students.  

“Networking is important. You never know whose help you’ll need,” Dr. Stern said 

Dr. Stern is looking forward to every aspect of the conference, but he is most excited about what attendees will learn and take away from the event.  

“I really enjoy personally going out there and educating people. The short-term goal is that they will learn things that they can implement right after they hear it in these talks, and the long-term goal is more down the line of better preparing for events as they occur in the future,” he said. “With all things related to animal crimes and animal forensic sciences, UF is uniquely positioned to continue to be the leader in that field. This is just going to be another thing that we do to show not only Florida but everybody else that UF is the place to go for this.” 

Interested in attending the 2024 Animal Forensic Investigations Conference? Register now:  

The William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine is a joint initiative of the Colleges of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida. It was created in 1999 by the Board of Regents to honor the memory of Dr. William R. Maples, an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of forensic anthropology. The Maples Center offers forensic services and world-class online programs in Forensic Medicine, Veterinary Forensics, Shelter Medicine, and Wildlife Forensics including graduate degree programs, certificates, and continuing education.