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Pets and Investigations

 


Planning Around Them
We appreciate knowing ahead of time whether or not you keep companion animals in the venue scheduled for investigation.  Because pets can pose safety risks, unless you make explicit arrangements with PPI for your pet(s) to be present, you should attempt to make alternative arrangements for them on the night of the investigation.  If this cannot be accomplished, you should designate one room in the venue for their accommodation and apprise investigators of their location, their behaviors, their sounds, and other factors that could affect the quality of the evidence.


Hazards
PPI does not use equipment that is hazardous to animals.  However, animals may pose a hazard to the investigation.  From our territorial intrusion to our use of strange equipment, our presence could cause house pets to behave erratically.  Our use of flash photography in the dark, for example, may overexcite or confuse pets, which could lead to aggressive or neurotic pet behavior.  Furthermore, unrestrained house pets pose unnecessary risks to the stationary equipment that PPI sets up as part of its investigation, including infrared cameras, data loggers, and wireless audio recorders.  We rely on our clients being forthcoming about their house pets prior to our arrival, and we expect pet owners to secure any pet that might possibly bite, scratch, or be overly demonstrative; however, if we assess too many unnecessary risks due to the presence of one or more pets, PPI will withdraw the investigation.


Evidence Contamination
In rare cases, pets can be indispensable to our investigations because they are involved in specific aspects of the case.  However, in most instances pets that are not in cages or tanks placed securely away from the investigation area compromise the measures of control we work very hard to maintain in order to safeguard our evidence from contamination.  When dogs shadow the movements of their owners or cats stealthily follow the investigators during the investigation, contamination of our recorded evidence will be inevitable. In fact, the following pet related noises and activities frequently risk misinterpretation in the evidence analysis or cause us to throw out potentially legitimate evidence because it cannot be ruled out as pet related.

Dogs, cats, potbellied pigs:  clicking nails and pattering feet on hardwood surfaces; panting, purring, grunting and breathing abnormalities; licking noises; whines and cries.
Birds:  fluffing and preening; cage rattling; bruxing (sleep-related beak-scraping); screeches, squawks and peeps; and, for birds with speech abilities, mumbling and talking.
Caged mammals and caged reptiles: rattling; rustling; random vocalization.
Aquatic pets:  filtration noises; anomalous shadows (lighted tanks).

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