Module 3: The Case of the Embedded Collar

What is Veterinary Forensics and Animal Abuse?

Veterinary forensics is the use of veterinary medicine to answer for a court of law whether a crime involving an animal has been committed. Crimes against animals are defined by local, state, and federal animal abuse laws. Animal abuse is a LEGAL, not medical determination.

The most common types of animal abuse include neglect, intentional physical abuse, and organized abuse.

Abuse compromises an animal’s physical and mental health and well-being by causing states of discomfort, distress, and pain. Suffering is un-alleviated distress and pain and can be evaluated using the Five Freedoms as a benchmark:


The Five Freedoms

  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst: By ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor
  2. Freedom from Discomfort: By provision of appropriate shelter and a comfortable resting place
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury, Disease: Through prevention, diagnosis, and treatment
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behavior: By provision of adequate space, proper facilities and the company of the animal’s own kind
  5. Freedom from Fear and Distress: By ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering


Pain and suffering are evidence of abuse.


dog with injured ears and nose
This dog has severe bite wounds on its ears. Care was not sought by the owner.


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