Often, canines are employed in tracking down criminals. However, forensic science scientists state they are also able to aid in offering important proof in police investigations—by being a resident or witness at the crime scene.
The new Australian research, by scientists in Victorian and South Australia, broadens the opportunities for DNA to aid in investigations of criminal activities by widening insights into the existence and transfer of human DNA on pets like dogs and cats.
Flinders University scientist Heidi Monkman in association with Roland van Ooorschot from the Victoria Police Forensic Services Department and Bianca Szkuta from Deakin University gathered human DNA from 20 pet dogs of different breeds from various households.
This introductory study performed at Deakin established that human DNA can be withdrawn from all regions of the sampled dogs, despite some regions consistently offered more DNA than others, like the back and head.
This study demonstrated that human DNA can be transferred to dogs upon contact by a person’s hand and that it can be transferred from dogs to a contacting surface, such as during patting and walking. This information may assist those investigating criminal acts in which dogs are involved to consider situations in which it may be useful to sample for human DNA from a dog. It also showed that investigators may need to consider dogs as a vector for indirect transfer of human DNA within particular scenarios.”
Heidi Monkman, Study First Author, College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University
Besides the dog owner(s), and people residing in the same household, the research also discovered DNA from unknown sources, which needed more investigations.
In domestic environments, animals could be an offender, a victim, or an innocent party linked to a crime. However, very minimal knowledge of human DNA transfer, prevalence, persistence, and recovery (DNA TPPR) linked to domestic animals, the scientists stated.
More work on human DNA transfers to and from companion animals is being performed at Flinders University to enhance comprehension and offer data that will aid legal arbiters and forensic investigators.
Monkman, H., et al. (2023) Presence of Human DNA on Household Dogs and Its Bi-Directional Transfer. Genes. doi.org/10.3390/genes14071486