In an unprecedented moment in animal welfare history, Dr. Melinda Merck, ASPCA Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics, received the National Asset Forfeiture Award from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Honored at the 2009 Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and Asset Forfeiture Program National Leadership Conference, Dr. Merck was presented with the Outstanding Investigation or Case Award for her forensics work in the investigation of Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels—work that helped to produce evidence that led to a guilty plea.
“This is the first time an animal-related agency has received such an award or recognition,” says ASPCA President and CEO, Ed Sayres. “It was a great opportunity to show that pursuing animal crime cases can produce important results in drug investigations.”
Dr. Merck assisted in the recovery and analysis of forensic evidence from Vick’s property, including carcasses and skeletal remains of numerous Pit Bulls. The evidence helped to convict Vick of operating a competitive dog fighting ring, a federal offense that resulted in a prison term for Vick and three co-defendants. Vick was also ordered to pay restitution of $928,073 to the United States Government for expenses related to the interim and long term care of the Pit Bulls seized from his property.
The award ceremony had over 1,500 attendees, including prosecutors, U.S. attorneys and criminal investigators who have worked on the biggest drug and organized crime cases in our country.
Read about the forensics work of Dr. Melinda Merck:
Read about the ASPCA's involvement with the Michael Vick case:
Thank you, Dr. Merck, for your excellence in medicine and for your dedication to animals!
Thanks, too, to the ASPCA, an organization I am proud to support monthly.