Explaining that paw prints are tough to match, a Massachusetts farmer employed high-tech DNA analysis of fur to get to the bottom of which neighborhood dog was preying on his chickens.
Like most longtime residents of rural West Tisbury, Mass., Malcolm Jones considers his livestock to be like family, according to the Boston Globe.
So after his chicken coop was raided three times, Jones called on the experts. He retrieved dog hairs from the coop and sent them along with samples collected from his neighbor’s three dogs to a crime lab in Davis, Calif.
“There are no witnesses, right? You’ve got to use other methods,” Jones told the Globe. “The dogs went right in the chicken coop, and I found hair stuck in the splinters in the plywood. … It was the only evidence I had unless you wanted to try footprints, but those are hard to match.”
The laboratory test collared Sabrina, the malamute-border collie mix. Trigger and Trucker are off the hook.
“The DNA profile from Sabrina matched that of ChickenHouseHair at all loci,” Dr. Joy Halverson, the senior scientist at QuestGen Forensics, reported in a letter to Jones. “From my experience, I would estimate that the likelihood ratio for this case is well over a million.”
The California lab says this marks the first case in which DNA analysis was used to nab a canine suspect.
Tonight, Sabrina’s owner, Karin Magid, will get her day in court. She is slated to go before a county panel to defend her dog and argue that Jones went overboard with his analysis, according to United Press International.
”We all treated it as a huge joke,” Magid told the Globe. ”I don’t deny that these dogs do this sort of thing, and my dog did eat one of his goats, but I think it was already dead.”
The panel is expected to issue a restraining order against Sabrina and may order Magid to reimburse Jones $50 for each dead chicken.
Jones also plans to take Magid to small claims court to recover the $400 he spent on the DNA lab tests.
”I want this [case] to send a shockwave across the dog community,” he told UPI.