Robert Reisman, 62, is a forensic veterinarian at the ASPCA in New York.
Q: What do you do as a forensic veterinarian?
A: Our team investigates animal cruelty, which includes hoarding, animal fighting and other forms of neglect and abuse, and assists in the prosecution of the offenders. We physically examine animals brought to us by the NYPD or our ASPCA. Animal Hospital and gather evidence, such as DNA, from live and deceased animals. We also visit crime scenes and perform animal autopsies.
Q: What is one thing you’re particularly proud of?
A: Our 2014 partnership that transferred enforcement duties for animal cruelty cases from our Humane Law Enforcement Division to the NYPD. It’s groundbreaking to have a major urban police force respond to animal crime the way it responds to other crime, and also for our forensic capability. We now see five times the number of animals we previously saw.
Q: What was a memorable case for you?
A: In 2015, a Maltese puppy was brought to a Staten Island veterinary hospital for her eight-week checkup. She was back two weeks later with a broken leg, and later that day was found in a garbage bag at the side of the road with a skull fracture and brain injury. Some good Samaritans rescued her, and vets who had treated her recognized her pink hair bow and called police. The prosecutor was able to show the owner’s culpability, and I wrote a report using information from CT scans to describe her injuries. The forensic information helped convict the owner, who went to jail. Luckily, the dog recuperated, and one of her vets adopted her.
Q: Can animal abuse be a sign of other problems?
A: Animals hurt in the context of domestic violence are a special concern of mine. Threatening an animal is one way an abuser can try to control a partner. Also, if an animal is being physically abused, you have to be concerned about violence against a child in the house.
Q: Do you have any pets yourself?
A: I adopted a poodle mix from the ASPCA over 17 years ago, which my then-3-year-old named Peanut Butter. We still have him. I also adopted two kittens born to a cat who had been abused. We named them Pawsie and Tigey. They’ll be 4 years old in February.