Dr. Ruth Bingham Dilts
Please tell us a little about yourself. (e.g., Background, education, hobbies, interests, etc.)
Born in New York and raised in California, I went to college at U.C. Davis to earn a BS (Animal Science) in 1984, an MS (Animal Science with reproduction and genetics emphasis) in 1988, and a DVM in 1989. I worked my way through school with no financial aid. For a year, I was a small animal vet and was a horse vet for 5 years. I then worked for San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) for over 18 years, doing thousands of necropsies, testifying in court dozens of times, and working on almost every type of animal cruelty case (except livestock) there is.
I performed the necropsies in both the Diane Whipple and the Nicolas Fabish fatal dog mauling cases. I was also involved in the Cosco Busan oil spill case. I’ve performed necropsies for other counties like San Mateo and Santa Cruz.
Now, I am semi-retired and working for the East County Animal Services in Dublin, CA and for a rescue organization in Morgan Hill. I am single, have one cat (“Oliver also known as “Little Shit””) and a tank of fish. I love to garden—I figure that God made Safeway for food and the garden for flowers. I attend Western States Veterinary Conference every year (best bang for the buck) and am active in my church.
Why did you choose the online Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program?
I have always been interested in Pathology, but almost all Veterinary Pathologists only work in reference labs looking at slides. I love the necropsies and one of my many paying jobs in college was working in the Pathology Department at U.C. Davis Vet School. I spent 3 years opening up every type of animal (llamas smell the worst) for the residents in Pathology.
I became interested in forensics while working at SFACC and got to know several police officers who gave me some education in ballistics. When I heard that there was going to be a conference in Veterinary Forensics in 2008, I went and was excited that the field was becoming recognized. I subsequently became a member of the IVFSA when it first organized and went to several conferences after that. When I heard that there was finally going to be some University-grade education offered in Veterinary Forensics, I jumped at the chance and signed up for the first class in Spring of 2012 which was Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence. I finished the Graduate Certificate and went on to do the Masters which I just finished in May 2016. If they ever offer a PhD in it, I will definitely sign up.
What surprised you most about the program?
How much I already knew from experience. I finally found the correct names for the processes I was seeing in a dead body (I just always called it decomposition)—Tardieu spots, Hemoglobin imbibition, Bile imbibition, Pseudomelanosis. Also, I was fascinated by how much I didn’t know—species of flies and beetles, the extent of the “Link”, the Federal Rules of Evidence, and more. I learned a great deal, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the field.
What was your favorite part of the online learning experience?
Getting connected to other vets who also share the interest in Veterinary Forensics. I didn’t know any other vets who had an interest in the subject; I knew several shelter vets but most of them didn’t like Pathology or had an interest in Forensics. Now, I have contacts all over the U.S. and in other countries as well!
What has been the most useful takeaway that you have applied to your day-to-day responsibilities?
Everything–from Entomology to Law to Radiology to Osteology… Since I still work for a municipal shelter, I am still doing forensic necropsies and participating in criminal cases. Now, I can bring even more expertise to the table as well as two college degrees in Veterinary Forensics when the defense lawyers voir dire me.Back to Student Testimonials