Doggy detectives could provide vital DNA evidence to convict criminals, according to a new study.
Canines are often used in tracking down lawbreakers, but forensic science researchers say they could also help provide crucial evidence in police investigations – by being a witness or resident at the crime scene.
The new Australian study widens the opportunities for DNA to assist criminal investigations by expanding knowledge about the presence and transfer of human DNA on pets such as cats and dogs.
Flinders University researcher Heidi Monkman working with Professor Roland van Ooorschot, from the Victoria Police Forensic Services Department, and Doctor Bianca Szkuta, of Deakin University, collected human DNA from 20 pet dogs of various breeds.
“Human DNA can be retrieved from all areas of the dogs that were sampled, although some areas consistently provided more DNA than others, such as the head and back,” said the preliminary study, published in the journal Genes.
“This study demonstrated that human DNA can be transferred to dogs upon contact by a person’s hand and that it can be transferred from dogs to a contacting surface, such as during patting and walking,” said First author Monkman, a PhD candidate.
“This information may assist those investigating criminal acts in which dogs are involved to consider situations in which it may be useful to sample for human DNA from a dog.
“It also showed that investigators may need to consider dogs as a vector for indirect transfer of human DNA within particular scenarios.”
As well as dog owners, and people living in the same household, the research team also found DNA from unknown sources, which required further investigation.
They said animals in domestic environments could be a victim, offender, or innocent party associated with a crime.
However, there is only limited knowledge of human DNA transfer, persistence, prevalence and recovery associated with domestic animals.
Further work on the transfer of human DNA to and from companion animals is being conducted at Flinders University to build better understanding and provide data that will assist forensic investigators.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager