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Animal Crime Lab Unravels Misdeeds

The Veterinary Genetics Lab at the University of California at Davis has been called "the CSI of the four legged world." The lab, directed by Beth Wictum, uses DNA samples from pets and other animals to help solve a variety of crimes.

In one case, the forensics lab used animal DNA to help investigators solve a sexual-assault case. As it happened, a key factor in getting a conviction was the presence of dog urine. The victim was unable to identify the suspect, but her dog had relieved himself on the assailant's truck during the assault.

The lab has also used animal DNA to help identify the remains of an animal on the side of the road or to determine if a neighbor's dog has killed a beloved cat. The Veterinary Genetics Lab has the largest database of domesticated-animal DNA in the United States. The facility was established to determine the parentage of cattle and horses.

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