Scientists are hoping that a new DNA database for dogs will help track – and prosecute – people who breed dogs to fight, reports KQED radio. Advocates say there’s a risk that the DNA records could be used against the dogs, or against people who adopt them. The idea is to have a canine version of the FBI’s CODIS – a database of human DNA that is used to connect criminals to crime scenes. In this case, the DNA might help prove that breeders supplied dogs to a dogfighting ring.
In a Missouri case, DNA samples from dogs proved that these weren’t just random pound dogs. They were all related. Prosecutors believed this was evidence that the dogs had been bred to fight. Beth Wictum, who directs the forensics lab at the School of Veterinary Medicine at University of California, Davis, says, “Essentially by breeding these dogs they’re creating a subpopulation, almost a new breed.” Working with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Wictum is compiling a database called the Canine Combined DNA Index System. So far, it includes about 400 samples taken from inside the cheeks of fighting dogs, including those seized in the Missouri raid. It’s designed to help law enforcement go after not just the fight operators but also the breeders.