Frequently Asked Questions (Forensics)

Forensics FAQ - puppy looking into a microscope

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I submit a case?
  • The first step is to call us. Contact VGL Customer Service and let them know you have a legal case. They will transfer you to our section. We need to have a conversation about your case and make sure that the answers we can try to provide will be helpful to you and your investigation. Once we both agree that testing is the right decision, you will need to fill out a Forensic Sample Submission form and send it to us along with your samples. You can read more about submitting a case here.
  • I need a Forensic Sample Submission form. Where can I get that?
  • Navigate to the Submit a Case page on our website. There is a button at the top that allows you to download the Forensic Sample Submission form, or click here to download the form directly.
  • How long will it take to test my sample(s)?
  • Turnaround time is dependent on the complexity of your case and the current caseload of our section. Currently turnaround typically ranges from 5-7 weeks.
  • Can you RUSH my forensic testing?
  • We offer Priority testing which guarantees turnaround in 5 business days. This is only available if staffing and testing methods allow, and there is an additional charge. Please call us to see if this service is available for your case.
  • Can you send the reports directly to me?
  • All VGL-Forensics reports are sent only to the person listed on the Forensic Sample Submission form via email.
  • How long will it take to receive the results?
  • Turnaround time is dependent on the complexity of your case and the current caseload of our section. Currently turnaround typically ranges from 5-7 weeks.
  • How can I contact VGL with questions about forensic animal DNA testing?
  • Contact VGL Customer Service. They can forward your questions to our section via email or phone.
  • How much does it cost?
  • Forensic DNA testing is complex, primarily due to the additional requirements and documentation that is required to go to court, but also because the types of samples that are tested are not necessarily the best quality. We treat samples individually to guarantee evidence integrity. Also, we have very skilled and experienced scientists that have experience testifying in court. Additional documentation, individual attention, and experienced expert witnesses mean additional testing time and cost. Every case is different, so please contact us for current pricing.
  • Have my samples arrived?
  • We welcome active communication with you while your samples are being tested. If at any point you wish to check in with us we can tell you exactly where your case is at.
  • What are the different stages of testing a forensic DNA case?
  • Forensic DNA testing at VGL-Forensics includes several different stages. First our Forensic Scientist extracts and analyzes the DNA, then our Forensic Analyst interprets the data and drafts the conclusions and report, then the Forensic Scientist administratively reviews the report for accuracy, and finally a Technical Reviewer (a past or current Forensic Analyst) technically reviews the report and case records.
  • Have my results been completed? If not, when will they be completed?
  • We welcome active communication with you while your samples are being tested. If at any point you wish to check in with us we can tell you exactly where your case is at.
  • Can I add a test to the sample I sent in for testing?
  • Because forensic cases are so unique, we cannot complete the case without open communication with you. If you have additional questions you would like to try to answer, call us and we will discuss what options are available.
  • I don't see forensic testing in MyVGL - What test should I order?
  • You cannot order VGL-Forensics testing through MyVGL. Because each case is unique, we need to speak with everyone who wants to submit a case to make sure that we can do the types of testing that you are interested in. Please see our Submit a Case page to start testing with VGL-Forensics.
  • Can you tell what breed a dog is?
  • No better than you can. While there are particular areas of DNA that have been linked with particular breeds, breed testing to the degree that would make it at all appropriate in a forensic context is not possible at this time.
  • What types of cases do you get?
  • Animal abuse, animal on human attack, animal on animal attack, poaching, theft, cattle rustling, species identification, horse doping, and violent crimes like homicide or assault.
  • Are the tests you do the same as human forensic DNA testing?
  • We use the same techniques and equipment, but our primers are specific to each species.
  • Is an animal DNA profile as unique as a human’s?
  • Yes, but we may test more markers because of increased inbreeding. Dog STR profile frequencies are on the order of 10-16 using the Dogfiler panel of 15 autosomal markers.
  • Pet hair is everywhere. Can you get an STR profile from shed hair?
  • Because cats and dogs groom themselves, we sometimes develop STR profiles from shed hairs. The ability to pool three or more hairs together increases our chance of obtaining an STR profile.