DNA Being Used to Convict Animal Abusers

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ScruffyPhoto: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Scruffy was a one-year-old tabby cat, who was found in 2008 with much of his fur and skin burned off. “It was just a badly burned cat, with the burns extending into the muscle of the legs,” explained Robert Reisman, medical coordinator of animal cruelty cases at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Scruffy was euthanized but his killers were brought to justice, thanks to the introduction of DNA evidence into his case. Investigators found DNA of the cat at the crime scene and were able to link it to teenagers Angelo Monderoy and Matthew Cooper. Cooper pleaded guilty and Monderoy went to trial. He was convicted of aggravated animal cruelty as well as burglary and arson. He faces up to fifteen years in prison.

So far, there are only two labs that work on animal-cruelty cases. Beth Wictum is director of one of them, and has testified in several animal-cruelty cases. “Usually they end up pleading,” she said, “because their lawyers know what would happen if they brought that kind of cruelty in front of a jury.”

Animals’ DNA Helps Catch Their Abusers [City Room/NYT]