Christian Broadhurst, DVM, senior staff veterinarian at Clay Humane, a nonprofit animal clinic located in Orange Park, has received a graduate certificate from the University of Florida in veterinary forensic sciences.
Broadhurst received the certificate at the beginning of May, making him able to testify as an expert witness in cruelty cases. The certification also allows Broadhurst to better identify cruelty cases on a daily basis in veterinary practice.
“I enrolled in the University of Florida’s Maples Center for Forensic Medicine graduate certificate program because I am committed to helping abused and neglected animals,” Broadhurst said. “At Clay Humane, we are often tasked with helping in cruelty cases, and additional knowledge of forensic science will help me better identify and testify in those cases.”
The University of Florida’s veterinary forensic sciences graduate certificate program is provided by the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Broadhurst completed the distance learning program during a two-year period. He will now enroll to earn his Masters in Veterinary Forensic Science, the first of its kind at the University of Florida.
The spring 2013 graduating class is the first group in the world to receive their Veterinary Forensic Sciences Graduate Certificate. The program, offered by University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine, is in partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“Up until now, there hasn’t been a formal education program in the field of veterinary forensics at a graduate level,” said Patricia Norris, Sheriff’s Veterinarian for the Dona Ana County sheriff’s office in Las Cruces, N.M.
“Law enforcement and the court systems often balk at training offered by animal welfare organizations, but having this program associated with a top university, a forensic science center and a veterinary college makes a huge difference in the area of credibility for the court system.”
The graduate certificate is offered fully online, and students from around the world are currently signed up to take courses in the fall semester. Classes cover topics that include crime scene processing, scientific and legal principles of forensic evidence, animal cruelty and interpersonal violence, and forensic pathology and entomology.
“The certificate has only been available for four semesters and the response has been overwhelming,” said Jason Byrd, Ph.D., director of education and founder of the program. “There is a great demand for knowledge in this field and each semester we continue to experience a growing interest from an increasingly diverse group of students and professionals.”
Graduates and current students come from veterinary medicine, law enforcement, forensic sciences, animal rescue organizations, and related fields, but they all share a common desire to speak for those who do not have a voice and to see justice enforced within the legal system.
“Veterinary forensic science is more than cases involving animal abuse and neglect, animal fighting, hoarding and puppy mills,” said Ann Cavender, D.V.M., a full-time mixed animal practice owner and graduate of the UF program. “It involves all aspects of the intersection of veterinary medicine and the legal community.”
“I believe that as pioneers in the field of veterinary forensic science, we are obligated to hold our field to rigorous standards of scientific methodology and integrity,” added Norris. “Having an advanced education certificate and degree programs is an essential piece of meeting that challenge.”