Rachel Touroo, DVM
Director, ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Sciences
Dr. Rachel Touroo joined the ASPCA in March 2012 as the director of its Veterinary Forensics program. Working at the Veterinary Medical Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Dr. Touroo assists with crime scene investigations in animal cruelty cases throughout the country, including the examination of live and deceased victims and providing expertise and training to law enforcement and animal care and control agencies.
Dr. Touroo plays an integral role in the ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program at the University of Florida, helping to develop research in applications of forensic science to veterinary medicine. The program is the nation’s first such curriculum within an educational institution, and it promotes the application of forensic sciences to veterinary medicine to aid in the understanding, prevention and prosecution of animal cruelty. The program provides veterinary forensic science services to individuals and agencies worldwide.
Dr. Touroo previously worked as the staff veterinarian for animal care with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Richmond, Virginia. She started her career in animal welfare as a research assistant at the animal behavior and welfare group at Michigan State University and later worked as an associate veterinarian in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Touroo earned a bachelor of science degree in animal science from Michigan State University. She received her veterinary degree from the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Jason H. Byrd, Ph.D., D-ABFE
Dr. Byrd is a board certified forensic entomologist and diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Entomology. At the University of Florida, he instructs courses in forensic science at the University of Florida’s nationally recognized Hume Honors College. He served for over a decade as a faculty member of the Virginia Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine.
Outside of academics, Dr. Byrd serves within the National Disaster Medical System, Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, Region IV. He also serves as the logistics chief for the Florida Emergency Mortuary Operations Response System.
Dr. Byrd has combined his formal academic training in Entomology and Forensic Science to serve as a consultant and educator in both criminal and civil legal investigations throughout the United States and internationally. He specializes in the education of law enforcement officials, medical examiners, coroners, attorneys, and other death investigators on the use and applicability of arthropods in legal investigations.
ASPCA Forensic Analyst
Amanda Fitch responds to scenes of animal cruelty, provides educational presentations on crime scene processing and conducts research. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Florida and a Master’s degree in Forensic Science from the University of Central Oklahoma.
After completing her B.A., she worked as an archaeologist on a variety of prehistoric and historic sites, as well as historic cemeteries. After completing her Master’s, she served as a medicolegal death investigator for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Oklahoma City, where she was trained to investigate various causes and manners of death, and was given the opportunity to pursue her interest in forensic anthropology.
Fitch has also worked at the Florida District 7 and 24 Office of the Medical Examiner, and then went to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as a latent print and crime scene technician. While employed at FDLE, she processed and photographed latent print evidence as well as processed crime scenes. Amanda continued her training with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office as a latent print analyst and performed comparisons between known and unknown prints to make identifications.
ASPCA Forensics Graduate Assistant
Lerah Sutton is currently a Master's student in forensic science at the University of Florida and the Graduate Assistant to the William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine as part of the University of Florida-ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program. In this position, she has responded to several animal crime scenes with the ASPCA in addition to her research projects.
Sutton earned a Bachelor's degree with highest honors in Anthropology from the University of Florida. Earlier in her career she worked at the Florida District 7 & 24 Office of the Medical Examiner, where she provided administrative support as well as assisted in the morgue. After completing her Master’s degree, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in forensic anthropology.