Necropsy Service

A postmortem examination (forensic necropsy) is performed in order to answer questions about the death of an animal. Most of the forensic necropsy requests received are from cases involving non-natural deaths under suspicious circumstances, often coupled with evidence suggesting foul play.  Information that can be obtained includes cause of death, mechanism of death, and time of death.  Depending on the case, a supplemental collection of trace, botanical, entomological, or genetic evidence can be collected.  Often, a species or individual identification of the animal is requested.  The findings from a forensic necropsy can assist law enforcement agencies during their investigation.

What is a forensic necropsy?

A forensic necropsy is a step-by-step examination of the body of an animal and the medical findings are used as evidence in legal proceedings. The veterinary forensic pathologist will evaluate the animal for injuries and disease and may take samples of tissue or bodily fluids for additional testing.

What types of cases are submitted for a forensic necropsy?

  • Gunshot wounds
  • Stab wounds
  • Blunt force trauma
  • Asphyxia (strangulation, drowning)
  • Death in a fire
  • Indication or suspicion of neglect

What are some of the services that the forensic pathology service can provide?

  • Written report
  • Photo documentation
  • Histologic examination of tissues
  • Forensic imaging studies including computed tomography scan, digital radiography

What are the hours of the veterinary forensic pathology service?

The laboratory is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except on university holidays. Prior to the submission of a forensic necropsy, it is recommended that you contact the diagnostic laboratories to discuss the case so we are able to meet your needs. Requests for forensic necropsy examinations can be submitted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by email. Animals can be dropped off at the laboratory after-hours, if necessary.  Additionally, we request that when submitting a case you fill out the submission form as completely as possible.  The submission for can be found here.

For more information about the forensic pathology service please contact:

Dr. Adam W. Stern , DVM, DACVP