CANINE CODIS

Old pit bull-type dog at the shelter

Using a CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) to Fight Dog Fighting

Tan pit bull-type dog on a heavy chain outdoors
Copyright 2012 The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). All Rights Reserved. Photo courtesy of Bizelli Photography, St. Louis, MO

The CANINE CODIS database is the first multi-agency forensic DNA database of dogs.

To help stop dog fighting using tools of the 21st century, the Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO), the ASPCA, the Louisiana SPCA, and the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory have come together to establish the first ever database dedicated to combating the crime of dog fighting. This database is similar to the FBI’s human CODIS database used in criminal and missing person investigations. The CANINE CODIS database contains individual DNA profiles from dogs that are seized during dog fighting investigations as well as profiles from unknown samples collected at suspected dog fighting venues. DNA will be used to identify relationships between dogs and thereby allow investigators to expand their investigations to those who breed and train dogs for fighting.

Blood collected from dog fighting sites will be searched against the CANINE CODIS database to identify the source. This database provides the criminal justice system with a powerful tool for investigating and prosecuting these cases.

Upon seizure of the dogs, cheek swabs are collected and submitted to the laboratory for DNA testing. The DNA profile is then searched against the CANINE CODIS database. In the event that the query returns a “hit”, the agency submitting the query sample and the agency that submitted the database sample are notified. This exchange of information will help prosecutors to expand and strengthen dog fighting investigations.

VGL does not support breed-specific legislation. This database contains no breed-specific information and cannot be used for that purpose. It is established solely for prosecuting criminal dog fighting cases, and only law enforcement professionals engaged in investigating dog fighting casework can contribute samples.

To submit samples to the CANINE CODIS database, please consult with a forensic scientist at 530-752-2211. Once your agency is approved for sample submission, you may request collection kits at no charge. However, there is a fee for testing. Include a CANINE CODIS Submission form with the samples and a W-9 for your agency. The agency contact listed on the form under Client Information will be notified in the event of a database hit.

For more information on dog fighting, please visit the ASPCA website.