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Animal cruelty foes have new training tool

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The University of Florida and the ASPCA have teamed up to launch an educational initiative to enhance animal cruelty investigations across the United States.

Their new graduate program in veterinary forensic sciences, billed as the first of its kind in the nation, is designed to help investigators make greater use of scientific knowledge and methods to solve crimes against cats, dogs and other animals.

The program will provide “unparalleled access to the latest developments in this burgeoning field, including new technologies and improved methods of analysis and investigation,” said Jason Byrd, associate director of the university’s William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine.

Randall Lockwood, the ASPCA’s senior vice president of forensic sciences and anti-cruelty projects, said, “We’re seeing a stronger emphasis placed on forensics when it comes to the investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty cases, so these skills are becoming increasingly important for veterinarians, law enforcement personnel and other professionals.”

The two-year program, which began in May, will give students the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in veterinary forensics from the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville, Fla. Courses include “Animal Crime Scene Processing,” “Animal Law” and “Seminar in Veterinary Pathology.”

The program’s debut comes two years after the university began offering an online graduate certificate in veterinary forensics. The university also offers an online graduate certificate in shelter medicine.

The New York-based ASPCA -- or American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals -- has long aided animal cruelty cases across the country.

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