by: Rachel Stockman Updated:
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - Dr. Melinda Merck said she saw repeated signs of animal abuse in her veterinary practice in Roswell. This was in the late 1990s and Merck said she was growing frustrated by her observations because she felt like she had no way to investigate what happened.
Around that time, Merck ended up meeting Gwinnett County crime scene investigator Joey Brooks. That is where her interest in animal forensics began. The problem was, according to Merck, there wasn't much written on the topic. So Merck turned to the only place she
could -- studying human forensics.
'Come on down, you can observe our autopsies.' I started studying under them and then I started taking more courses, and researching because there was nothing," Merck told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman.
Merck said she also learned about crime scene investigation from
Brooks. The two teamed up to fight animal cruelty in the county.
Since then, Merck has gone on to be one of the leading animal forensic scientists in the country. She is used as an investigator on cases nationwide. Probably the most high profile of her career was the dog-fighting ring led by former Atlanta Falcons player Michael Vick.
"What I found was evidence of hanging, and evidence of the dog being slammed," Merck said.
Merck went on to author one of the leading textbooks on the subject, and she helped to implement an animal forensics program at both the University of Georgia and the University of Florida.
"Over a period of time, to see her from going from working at a vet clinic to speaking the world about this, it's very impressive," said Brooks.