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Forensic studies of dog attacks on humans: a focus on bite mark analysis

Authors Fonseca G, Mora E, Lucena J, Cantin M

Received 9 July 2015

Accepted for publication 27 August 2015

Published 12 October 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 39—51


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Henrik Druid

Gabriel M Fonseca,1 Esther Mora,2 Joaquin Lucena,3 Mario Cantin,4

1Faculty of Dentistry, Laboratory of Forensic Dentistry, University of La Frontera, Temuco, Chile; 2Dental Sinai Hospital & Research Center, 3Forensic Pathology Service, Institute of Legal Medicine, Seville, Spain; 4Faculty of Dentistry, Doctoral Program in Morphological Science, Universidad La Frontera, Temuco, Chile

Abstract: The interaction between domestic animals and humans has not been free of conflicts, and dog attacks represent a real problem, not only for the health consequences, but also for the possible criminal, and can affect the legal or financial outcomes. Dogs’ teeth have particular features, and the resulting bite marks are a major point of forensic interest mainly in the absence of witnesses or in cases where postmortem dog interference can be misinterpreted. An appropriate forensic approach should include an exhaustive analysis of the scene, the victim, and the dog. Bite marks must be discriminated from other traumas, and the familiarity of the investigator with different patterns of animal behavior can be of great importance in the correct assessment of the offending specie. A scientific inclusion/exclusion of the dog involved is possible and also recommended because of the possible consequences for the owner of the animal. Since dog bite mark analysis should involve different forensic professionals such as pathologists, odontologists, veterinarians, biologists, and also police investigators, a review focused on this type of evidence from a multidisciplinary point of view is presented. Prevention and mitigating strategies focused on both breed-specific legislation and the legal responsibility of the owner for the dog's behavior are discussed.

Keywords: fatal dog attack, scavenging, bite mark, dog behavior, forensic pathology, forensic dentistry

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