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New York City Uses CSI-Style Techniques To Solve Crimes Against Animals

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- New York City is getting tough on animal abuse. Investigators are using cutting-edge technology to put alleged offenders behind bars.

And as CBS 2's Maurice DuBois reported Wednesday, investigators are even finding that animal evidence can solve crimes involving humans.

Cats and dogs are being swabbed for DNA, in the kind of crime-fighting technique that is routine on the hit CBS show "CSI," where crimes are solved using the most advanced tools.

Such advanced investigatory methods – including ballistics blood spatter, hair and saliva analysis -- are also being used in real life in New York to solve crimes against animals.

"It could absolutely make the case, to absolutely, definitively link the defendant or defendants to the particular criminal act," said Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Diane Malone. "That forensic recovery of evidence really helps to flesh out the case for us."

Veterinarian Dr. Robert Reisman is a pioneer in animal forensics. He said when it comes to crimes against pets and other animals, New York is cracking down.

"We work really hard to really make the case airtight and collect all the evidence we need to," Reisman said. "We just process a crime scene like anybody else."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals even has a mobile evidence lab, with everything investigators need to do forensics at the scene of an animal crime.

It was Reisman's testimony that helped convict the man who killed "Madea," Debra Bender's beloved cat.

"I miss her a lot," Bender said. "That was my baby."

The DNA was key evidence that linked a weapon to the killing.

"It helps a lot. It put closure to it," Bender said. "I'm glad justice was served. I'm glad it was served."

And in an unexpected benefit, animal forensics are also helping to solve human murders.

In one case, some dogs were present when their owners were stabbed to death, and the dogs' hairs were found in the killer's boots. That helped put the killer behind bars, Dubois reported.

Prosecutors said as advances are made in forensics used in human cases, the same techniques will also be used for animals. The messages to abusers, they add, is clear:

"We'll get you," Malone said. "Sooner or later, we'll find you, and we'll prosecute you, because we take these cases very, very seriously."

Those who abuse animals can face up to four years in prison, Dubois reported.

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