A Multidisciplinary Approach to Investigating Animal Crimes

MONDAY, APRIL 10, 10:30-11:15AM

Dr. Margaret Doyle, BSc MVB MSc MRCVS, Forensic Veterinarian, Horizon Veterinary Group
Brad Nichols, Senior Manager, Animal Cruelty Investigations, Calgary Humane Society

With the increasing level of recognition and reporting of animal abuse and neglect in communities around the world, and the realization of the one health approach, it’s important that reported cases involving animals are dealt with effectively and efficiently. In Calgary, we have established one of the first interdepartmental working groups to take an integrated approach to handling cases of animal cruelty, neglect and animal hoarding. Our team includes local humane society peace officers tasked with enforcing animal protection legislation, Calgary Police Service detectives and forensic veterinarians. The team, led by Brad Nichols of the Calgary Humane Society, Detective Shawna Baldwin of the Calgary Police Service, and Dr. Margaret Doyle, a forensic veterinarian, has become an example for other cities and provinces seeking to establish protocols and procedures for tackling these often complex cases.

A multi-disciplinary approach to animal-involved crimes allows for seamless investigation and results in higher prosecution and conviction rates. Drawing on resources, technical capabilities and experience from a variety of law enforcement and investigative agencies, we are better able to handle not only the cases themselves but to address and manage the collateral victims of these crimes. The link between animal crimes and other forms of community violence has been widely accepted, so to continue to compartmentalize animal crimes and investigate and assist only those victims has been exposed as a narrow-sighted approach. Our Calgary-based initiative would like the opportunity to present our unique and integrated investigative approach of cooperative involvement in animal investigations from an early stage. Frequently, we find our collaborative approach results in successful investigations where, in the past, individual agencies have failed. We will address the benefits of an integrated approach to these investigations from a holistic community perspective.

Dr. Margaret Doyle graduated from the University College Dublin in 2009 before moving to Calgary to practice in small animal primary care. She began working with animal protection officers from the Calgary Humane Society in 2010 and has since completed a Masters in Veterinary Forensics through the University of Florida to help address a need for better veterinary evidence and involvement in animal abuse cases. She currently consults with multiple law enforcement agencies in Alberta on animal abuse and neglect files and focuses on improving inter-agency cooperation. Dr. Doyle has worked on hundreds of cases, from crime scene analysis to necropsies to providing expert witness testimony at trial. She is passionate about increasing the awareness of the connection between animal abuse and domestic and interpersonal violence as a means to combat violence of all kinds in society.

Brad Nichols attended Mount Royal University, obtaining a degree in Justice Studies. Once graduated, he worked municipal enforcement for a rural county before joining the Calgary Humane Society team in 2005 as a Special Constable. Over the last decade he has been promoted to field supervisor, Department Head of Protection and Investigations and most recently, Senior Manager, Animal Cruelty Investigations. During his 12 years with CHS, he have investigated thousands of animal cruelty files and seized hundreds of animals toward prosecutions and convictions. In the last several years, his department has obtained a high public profile and is internationally recognized as a leader in animal cruelty investigations. He has been able to forge strong strategic partnerships with local Police agencies and forensically inclined veterinarians toward constant improvements in animal cruelty investigations.