CSI Animal: Veterinary Forensics in Practice

Room: St Laurent 8

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

Calgary Humane Society's Protection and Investigations Department, with the independent assistance of Alberta's only certified forensic veterinarian, has been able to successfully lay charges with strong supporting evidence, which has led to a high conviction rate. CHS cases have set case law precedents as a result of this great work. The level of strong forensic evidence resulting from this partnership with the vet community has vastly improved the effectiveness of the CHS Protection team. Thorough exams and necropsies are common sources of forensic evidence; however, cases can also be made or strengthened with the use of more creative means such as DNA for animal identification and heritage, entomology for wound aging and post-mortem interval and emerging technologies such as infrared. Budget-conscious animal welfare agencies may need to commit resources in order to complete an adequate investigation; however, this has proven to be well worth the investment! Humane societies and veterinarians can get creative with this as they build their own professional relationships. This comprehensive overview of animal welfare innovation concerning evidence collection will be illustrated through case studies.


  1. Animal cruelty investigations can be very complex: tips on conducting a thorough investigation leading to the desired results will be covered.
  2. Quality investigations will take resources: how not-for-profit agencies can get creative to get the professional help required from the vet community will be discussed.
  3. A message for veterinarians: you are doing forensic work whether you know it or not.

Brad Nichols graduated from Mount Royal University in 2003, obtaining a degree in Justice Studies. Shortly thereafter, Nichols joined the Calgary Humane Society’s Protection and Investigations team as a field officer. Over the last 13 years, he has been promoted, most recently, to Senior Manager, Animal Cruelty Investigations. He has investigated thousands of allegations of animal cruelty and oversees an internationally-recognized team.

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 Master’s in Veterinary Forensics through the University of Florida. She currently consults with multiple law enforcement agencies in Alberta on animal abuse and neglect files.