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Forensic examination of a decapitated rabbit: interdisciplinary investigations on perpetrator’s traces


Meier, Simone Martina; Dennler, Matthias; Martinez, Rosa Maria; Albini, Sarah (2019). Forensic examination of a decapitated rabbit: interdisciplinary investigations on perpetrator’s traces. Veterinary Record Case Reports, 7(4):e000876.

Abstract

A pet rabbit was found dead outside its enclosure; the head was missing. The investigation of cruelty to animals was commissioned, as decapitation might result from human mutilation, for example, due to occult rituals or neighbourhood disputes. A first external examination showed circular disruption rostral of the pectoral girdle with lack of the head and palpable bone fragments of both forelimbs. CT scan revealed extensive, irregular trauma to soft tissues and skeleton. The decapitation left a cut-like but irregular, partially wave-like wound margin with multiple small triangular, divergent defects more closely examined by postmortem examination. Swabs from the margin of the wound and tissue samples were collected for forensic genetic analysis and histology. Considering these interdisciplinary investigation results combined with experts’ knowledge, a predator attack was highly likely. Further evidence on geographical distribution and physiological behaviour of putative predator species led to consensus on the identity of the most likely perpetrator: a red fox.

Abstract

A pet rabbit was found dead outside its enclosure; the head was missing. The investigation of cruelty to animals was commissioned, as decapitation might result from human mutilation, for example, due to occult rituals or neighbourhood disputes. A first external examination showed circular disruption rostral of the pectoral girdle with lack of the head and palpable bone fragments of both forelimbs. CT scan revealed extensive, irregular trauma to soft tissues and skeleton. The decapitation left a cut-like but irregular, partially wave-like wound margin with multiple small triangular, divergent defects more closely examined by postmortem examination. Swabs from the margin of the wound and tissue samples were collected for forensic genetic analysis and histology. Considering these interdisciplinary investigation results combined with experts’ knowledge, a predator attack was highly likely. Further evidence on geographical distribution and physiological behaviour of putative predator species led to consensus on the identity of the most likely perpetrator: a red fox.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Institute of Food Safety and Hygiene
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Clinical Diagnostics and Services
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > General Veterinary
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Veterinary
Language:English
Date:1 December 2019
Deposited On:17 Feb 2020 16:18
Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 23:09
Publisher:British Veterinary Association
ISSN:2052-6121
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1136/vetreccr-2019-000876

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