Aim To describe and assess the scientific and technical aspects of animal forensic testing at the University of California, Davis. The findings and recommendations contained in this report are designed to assess the past, evaluate the present, and recommend reforms that will assist the animal forensic science community in providing the best possible services that comply with court standards and bear judicial scrutiny. Methods A batch of 32 closed files of domestic dog DNA cases processed at the University of California, Davis, between August 2003 and July 2005 were reviewed in this study. The case files comprised copies of all original paperwork, copies of the cover letter or final report, laboratory notes, notes on analyses, submission forms, internal chains of custody, printed images and photocopies of evidence, as well as the administrative and technical reviews of those cases. Results While the fundamental aspects of animal DNA testing may be reliable and acceptable, the scientific basis for forensic testing animal DNA needs to be improved substantially. In addition to a lack of standardized and validated genetic testing protocols, improvements are needed in a wide range of topics including quality assurance and quality control measures, sample handling, evidence testing, statistical analysis, and reporting. Conclusion This review implies that although a standardized panel of short tandem repeat and mitochondrial DNA markers and publicly accessible genetic databases for canine forensic DNA analysis are already available, the persistent lack of supporting resources, including standardized quality assurance and quality control programs, still plagues the animal forensic community. This report focuses on closed cases from the period 2003-2005, but extends its scope more widely to include other animal DNA forensic testing services.
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