Taking a bite out of animal crime

Forensic evidence plays a major role in bringing animal abusers to justice

     The customized E-450 van was funded by an anonymous donor who wanted to support the work Merck had done in the Michael Vick case, a football star who was sentenced to two years in prison in December for his role in a secret dog fighting ring. The vehicle includes a fully equipped surgical suite, medical supplies, a digital microscope, exhumation apparatus, an entomology kit, blood-testing equipment, and evidence collection supplies, and has made Merck's job a lot easier.

     She explains that before she had the vehicle she performed most evidence processing outside. "We had a puppy mill case where we had close to 100 dogs," she says. "I examined them in the middle of summer under a makeshift table outside, with no appropriate lighting. It was horrible."

     The vehicle also eases the transport of forensic equipment and medical supplies. Merck once crammed her own vehicle full of forensic gear then would find she lacked the means to transport a carcass to her office for necropsy. "Now I have a vehicle that's air conditioned or heated, with surgical lights, where I can do everything I need to at the scene," she says.

     Merck is available to travel to dog fighting, illegal breeding or large hoarding cases. Agencies may contact her via e-mail at catdvm@bellsouth.net or call her at (678) 773-8014.

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