Boston vet uses forensics to help police track down animal abusers

BOSTON — Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore has been a vet for more than 20 years and it's clear when you enter her office that helping animals is her passion. She's treated and saved countless furry, feathery and even scaly friends over the years. In 2013 she got a case that would change her life.

She was called to do a post-mortem exam on a dog known as 'Puppy Doe.' It was one of the most horrific cases of animal torture in Massachusetts history and the post-mortem exam took nearly two full days.

Working with other specialists to catalog the injuries and create a timeline, Smith-Blackmore said the work helped to understand how long Puppy Doe was abused.

Her findings helped put Puppy Doe's abuser in jail for 8 to 10 years and she devoted her career to finding justice for abused animals.

"I wanted to highlight the number of animals found harmed in other communities that don't get answers and don't get to tell their stories," Smith-Blackmore said.

She did a fellowship at the medical examiner's office in Boston to learn more about the forensics background she'd need and how to do a more advanced and detailed necropsy. Smith-Blackmore has since opened her own business in Boston, Forensic Veterinary Investigations, and gets calls from lawyers, vets and police departments from across the country.

"I wanted to highlight this because whenever we have an animal harmed it's never just the animal," she said. "What happened to them is incredibly important but it's also important for us to identify who could be a threat to all of us."

Smith-Blackmore is now focusing her efforts on some of the most unfortunate animals: those without so much as a name. She recently started a new initiative, The Animal Doe Project, a fund to raise money for the resources she needs to perform necropsies on unidentified animals.

"I find when it is an unknown animal ID those animals are less likely to get an exam, less likely to have resources invested in them," she said.

Most recently she did a necropsy on a cat found mutilated and bound in Canton. The Canton Police now have her findings and evidence and are still looking for the person responsible. Smith-Blackmore was even able to work up a rendering of what the cat likely looked like.

And while the Puppy Doe case will forever be remembered as a vicious act of animal cruelty, Smith-Blackmore says it changed her life -- and her mission.

Smith Blackmore says she is also working to make more police departments aware of the services she offers so they can contact her for help with future cases of animal abuse.

For more information or to donate to the Animal Doe Fund go to

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