Module 3: The Case of the Embedded Collar

The Clinical Forensic Examination

​The clinical forensic examination is a methodical and detailed physical exam performed to thoroughly document the animal’s condition and search for case-specific evidence. Two unique components of the clinical forensic exam that differentiate it from routine physical exams are forensic photography and evidence collection.

Forensic photography is utilized to:

  • Identify the victim
  • Show the victim’s condition at the time of examination
  • Document injuries and evidence that cannot be preserved or left unaltered
  • Document injuries or conditions before and after medical intervention

The photographic documents are evidence for a court of law.


Veterinary Team Examines a Puppy
Clinical forensic exams include taking photographs of each victim in an orderly sequence to document the animal’s condition. These photographs serve as evidence for the case.


The basic clinical forensic exam steps are:

  • Obtain case number and animal number from law enforcement or the investigator
  • Write case-specific information on a dry erase board (photo board)
  • Take photograph of the photo board with the animal
  • Take overall photographs of the animal’s body
  • Perform physical exam
  • Take orientation and close-up photographs of any lesions or abnormalities
  • Collect samples for diagnostic testing
  • Collect and preserve any evidence on the body


Veterinarian using a magnifying glass to examine a puppy
A forensic veterinarian is examining a puppy from a neglect situation.

Let’s walk through the steps in more detail…


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