NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced the appointment of Rachel Touroo, DVM, as director of its Veterinary Forensics department. She will be based at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
In this role, Dr. Touroo will assist with crime scene investigations in animal cruelty cases throughout the United States, including the examination of live and deceased victims and providing expertise and training to law enforcement and animal care and control agencies. In addition, Dr. Touroo will play an integral role in the ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program at the University of Florida. She will work closely with staff and students at Maples Center for Forensic Medicine and the College of Veterinary Medicine providing educational resources and helping to develop research in applications of forensic science to veterinary medicine.
“Dr. Touroo’s vast knowledge of animal welfare and veterinary medicine, especially relating to cruelty cases, makes her a valuable asset to our organization,” said Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of ASPCA Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects. “We are delighted to have her at the helm of our forensic sciences team.”
Dr. Touroo was most recently the staff veterinarian for animal care at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Richmond, Va. In this capacity, she provided training, resources and assistance to law enforcement throughout the state in handling animal cruelty investigations. She also provided expert witness testimony in animal cruelty cases and authored various guidance documents for animal control officers, including the inspection of commercial dog breeding facilities— commonly known as puppy mills—and the seizure of companion animals. In April 2011, Dr. Touroo oversaw the examination and documentation of 41 dogs associated with dog fighting operations in Halifax, Va. The ASPCA was involved in this case, assisting in the rescue, veterinary care, and forensics evidence collection.
“I am excited to be joining the ASPCA and look forward to working with the great team that is already in place,” said Dr. Touroo. “I think we can make great strides toward advancing the field of veterinary forensics.”
Dr. Touroo started her career in animal welfare in 2001 as a research assistant at the animal behavior and welfare group at Michigan State University. From 2007 to 2008, she was employed as an associate veterinarian in Bethesda, Md. Dr. Touroo was raised in Rockford, Mich. and graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor of science degree in animal science. She received her veterinary degree from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
The ASPCA Veterinary Forensics Sciences Program at the University of Florida is the nation’s first such curriculum within an educational institution. It promotes the application of forensic sciences to veterinary medicine to aid in the understanding, prevention and prosecution of animal cruelty. It is dedicated to meeting the veterinary forensic science needs of individuals and agencies worldwide, including education, research and applied casework.
Members of the ASPCA’s forensic sciences team have provided invaluable assistance in numerous cases. Most recently, they led the evidence collection efforts in conjunction with the rescuing of 175 dogs from a puppy mill in Hot Springs, Ark. and the removal of hundreds of fighting roosters in Fort Myers, Fla.