Autopsy Examination

There is a predilection for the exposed soft parts of the body (e.g., mouth and nose [36,87-89]). Large defects on the face, neck, and torso with variable loss of viscera and bony injury are observed following predation by large pets (e.g., dog; see Fig. 44 and refs. 36, 85, 86, and 88). Body parts (e.g., ears) can be missing (Fig. 44; ref. 91). Rodents can gnaw on areas of the body covered by clothes (87). The wounds are associated with minimal bleeding or bruising (85-87,89). Animal hair can be found in the wounds (89). No self-defense injuries are evident (85,87). Bite marks caused by canine teeth (dogs and large cats) and claw-induced linear scratch marks may be seen at the edge of the defect (Fig. 44; refs. 85, 88, and 89). Stab wound-like punctures are characteristic of canine dentition of carnivore origin (85). Rodent predation is characterized by layered damage of tissue (90). Rodents continue to gnaw in one area until all skin and soft tissue is chewed, exposing tendons, ligaments, and bone (87). Compared with the large irregular defect edges of canine predation, rodent wounds are smoother, finely serrated, and scalloped (Fig. 45; refs. 36, 85, 87, and 90). Parallel cutaneous lacerations indicative of tooth marks can be seen (36,87). Microscopic examination of the wounds does not show evidence of an inflammatory reaction (85,86).

The stomach of an animal may contain human remains, which can be confirmed by microscopic and DNA analysis (89).

Fig. 44. Postmortem predation by a dog. (A) Large irregular soft tissue defect of face. Note puncture wounds possibly from canine teeth (arrow). (B) Loss of hand owing to predation. (Courtesy of Dr. C. Rao, Regional Forensic Pathology Unit, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.)
Fig. 45. Rodent predation of fingers after death. (Courtesy of Dr. D. King, Regional Forensic Pathology Unit, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.)

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