Dr. Stern is a clinical associate professor and assistant director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, specializing in veterinary forensic pathology.
Tell us about your background.
I am originally from New York City and I completed my undergraduate studies at The George Washington University. I completed my veterinary degree at the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island. I completed an anatomic pathology residency at Oklahoma State University and achieved board certification in anatomic pathology in 2011.
How did you become interested in pathology and forensics?
I have always had an interest in the criminal justice system. It was during my residency training that I decided that the best way to combine my work as a veterinary pathologist with the criminal justice system was to become involved in veterinary forensics. Veterinary forensic pathology is just one piece of the puzzle when dealing with cases of suspected animal cruelty and neglect, but nonetheless it is a very important component to many investigations. As a pathologist, my role is to determine the cause of death of the animal, and my findings will help to support or refute the alleged events in the case at hand.
What do you want veterinarians to know about the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL)?
Excellent communication between the veterinarian and VDL is extremely important to us. Just like the veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR), there is also a less commonly discussed doctor-patient-pathologist and doctor-patient-laboratory relationship. These relationships can be viewed as extensions of the VCPR. At the VDL, we strive to be available for consultation about your medical cases, whether it is to discuss sample collection/submission, test results, or additional tests to perform. We want the best for your patients and we are here to help. I would encourage any veterinarian who has questions about a case to contact us; we would be glad to discuss it with you.
Would you like to tell us briefly about a case that interested you the most?
I have worked on a wide variety of cases of animal cruelty and it is important to note that not all alleged cases are actually cases of animal cruelty. Many of the cases I have worked on are interesting in a number of different ways, including the pathology of the injuries, role of the human-animal relationship, and how our criminal justice system works.
One case that interested me occurred in Illinois several years ago. This case involved a number of different crimes including animal cruelty, homicide, arson, and burglary. This case was interesting as it highlighted the “link” between cases of animal cruelty and other forms of violence against humans, and also highlighted the wide variety of professions that can be involved with investigation a crime. Communication was especially important in this case, as there were multiple crimes being investigated and each member of the investigation had valuable information to offer the investigation. The result of this case was a guilty plea by the suspect.
What pets do you have?
I have several pets including a Labrador retriever, domestic short-haired cat, two red-eared slider turtles, and three hermit crabs.