The Veterinary Forensic Sciences Laboratory (VFSL) is committed to providing forensic services for all animals, including companion animals, livestock, and wildlife.

The VFSL is recognized as a leader in veterinary forensic sciences and we are located in Gainesville, Florida. The VFSL provides veterinary forensic sciences services to government agencies (law enforcement, animal services/control, state attorney offices), humane societies, veterinarians, and the public.

Bone marrow fat
Long bone with serous atrophy of fat from an animal that died from starvation

Much of the work done in the VFSL is in the area of veterinary forensic pathology, using the forensic autopsy. At the VFSL, all forensic autopsies are performed by board-certified veterinary pathologists who have obtained Fellow status in Veterinary Forensic Pathology. In addition to the forensic autopsy, there are a number of other services that the VFSL can provide including toxicology, imaging studies, DNA analysis, and crime scene response. Other forensic services can be arranged as needed. Use the form linked below for autopsy requests.

Frequently Asked Questions



What is an animal forensic autopsy?

A forensic autopsy (forensic necropsy) is performed to answer questions about the death of an animal. Forensic autopsies are typically performed when the death of an animal is suspected to be non-natural, under suspicious circumstances (out of place and time), or there is evidence to suggest foul play. Information that can be obtained from the autopsy includes cause of death, time of death, collection of trace evidence, and, in some instances, identification of the animal (species and/or individual). The findings from a forensic autopsy are valuable to law enforcement agencies during their investigation.

What are some of the other forensic services that the VFSL can provide?

  • Forensic histopathology
  • Postmortem diagnostic imaging
  • Forensic toxicology (in-house and consultation with external specialists)
  • Forensic entomology (consultation with the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine)
  • Forensic DNA analysis (consultation with the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine)
  • Clandestine grave detection and excavation (consultation with the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine)
  • Animal crime scene response
  • Assessment of animal-related contaminants involving food safety
Urine from a cat that contains calcium oxalate monohydrate crystals that died of antifreeze poisoning
Urine from a cat that contains calcium oxalate monohydrate crystals that died of antifreeze poisoning

The VFSL works with forensic scientists and other specialists throughout the University of Florida, including the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine, as well as national and international experts.

What types of cases are submitted for a forensic autopsy?

Many types of cases can be submitted for examination. Examples of cases include:

  • Neglect (starvation, failure to provide care)
  • Gunshot injuries
  • Stab wounds
  • Blunt force trauma
  • Poisoning
  • Fire-related death
  • Animal sexual abuse
  • Illegal take of wildlife (poaching)
  • Surgical complications

What is the cost of a forensic autopsy?

The cost of the examination will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of animal submitted and what tests are requested. Please contact the laboratory and we will provide you with an estimate.

What are the hours of the VFSL?

The laboratory is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except for university holidays. Before the submission of an animal for forensic analysis, we recommend you contact the VFSL to discuss the case so we can be sure to meet your needs. Requests for information can be submitted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by email or using the contact form linked below. Animals can be dropped off at the laboratory after hours, if necessary, and are approved on a case-by-case basis.

For more information about the services we offer, please contact: