abc7.com August 21, 2006 -- SANTA ANA, August 21, 2006 -
California Orange County law enforcement officials say they hope to start using DNA from pets and other animals as forensic evidence in criminal investigations.
"Everybody who has animals knows that you are forever getting their hair on your clothing, so you can imagine how powerful this type of analysis may prove to be," Brian Wraxall of the Serological Research Institute in Richmond, California said.
The lab, currently accredited for human DNA analysis, plans to become accredited for animal analysis as the trend in forensic science grows.
Using animal evidence has been rare because few crime labs have accreditation for testing animals, but it's already helped solve some crimes.
Animal material will be systematically collected in rape, homicide and other cases. The DNA results will be presented to juries. Dog feces, feeding bowls and chew toys may become standard evidence that detectives will take from crime scenes along with spent bullets and fingerprints.
The first use of animal DNA in a criminal case is believed to have been in 1996 when Canadian prosecutors used hairs from a cat named Snowball on a bloody jacket to help link a man to the murder of his estranged wife.
In New Mexico, a hair from the pit bull found on a dead woman betrayed his owner as the murderer. Urine sprayed on a truck tire by Rover, an Iowa farm dog, helped identify the man who tried to rape his owner.