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Killer Convicted, Using Dog DNA Database 97

lee1 writes "It turns out that the UK has a DNA database — for dogs. And this database was recently used to apprehend a South London gang member who used his dog to catch a 16-year-old rival and hold him while he stabbed him to death. The dog was also accidentally stabbed, and left blood at the scene. The creation of human DNA databases has led to widespread debates on privacy; but what about the collation of DNA from dogs or other animals?"
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Killer Convicted, Using Dog DNA Database

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @03:19PM (#31526726)

    I've read TFA (weird I know, I'm a new Anonymous Coward here ;) and they followed the blood trail from the crime scene to where the dog and its owner where. Then they took blood samples. No mention of any dog DNA database.

  • by HalifaxRage ( 640242 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @03:23PM (#31526798) Journal
    From TFA "When both blood samples were tested by scientists using a newly set up dog DNA database they confirmed that the blood came from the same animal – Tyson. The dog was picked up later that night by police at a veterinary hospital. " Way to lose.
  • Database? Not really (Score:3, Informative)

    by alanw ( 1822 ) <> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @03:34PM (#31527044) Homepage

    It's a just a clueless journalist misusing the word database.

    This BBC report [] doesn't mention the word at all. There is no central registry of dog DNA samples. It's just the first time that DNA matching, between a sample of blood found at the crime scene and a sample taken from the dog belonging to a suspect caught nearby has been used in a UK court.

  • Re:In Dutch (Score:3, Informative)

    by BrentH ( 1154987 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @03:44PM (#31527238)
    Proper translation: "That's really scraped off of the dogs balls."
    Yeah I don't know either what that means (I'm Dutch).
  • Re:In Dutch (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @04:11PM (#31527836)
    It's Belgian Dutch (Flemish), meaning: it is far-stretched.
  • by lee1 ( 219161 ) <lee@lee-philli[ ]org ['ps.' in gap]> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @04:21PM (#31528034) Homepage
    Before accusing the journalist of being clueless, try reading beyond the first few paragraphs. 'Detective Chief Inspector Mick Norman, who led the investigation, told The Times: "It was vitally important that we could put Johnson at the scene of the attack. We did not have excellent ID evidence and using the dog DNA database forensically unequivocally placed Johnson at the scene of the murder." The new dog DNA database came online just two-months before the murder in April last year, enabling statistical analysis to be given on samples for the first time...'
  • by mea37 ( 1201159 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @04:34PM (#31528318)

    I've seen at least one post asserting that there is no database. Based on the facts presented in the story, I can see why a scientific mind might be inclined to conclude this: no database would be necessary to do what was done in this case. I think that's at best inconclusive; let's take a closer look...

    They wanted to link this guy to the crime scene. They already had him near the crmie scene. With limited identification from witnesses, that's at best only a start...

    They had blood on him, and the relevant use of DNA technology was in showing that this blood matched the blood from the crime scene. They could tell there was both human and dog blood; this doesn't require a database. They could tell that the human DNA on the suspect matched the victim's blood; combined with the other facts, that might be enough to put him at the scene, and it doesn't require a database. If they needed more evidence, they could tell that the dog blood from both samples came from a single animal; again, there should be no need for a database.

    I'm not sure what identifying the animal from which the dog blood originated adds to that. ("Wellll, he was covered in the victim's blood and blood from an animal that was at the crime scene, but that doesn't tell us anything... Oh, wait - he also owned the animal in question? Well, then!" If that's the reasoning, I guess the message is "if you're going to use a dog as a weapon, use someone else's dog".) But even then, no need for a database to match the blood sample to the dog since you have access to the dog you suspect it will match.

    So I don't doubt that a database exists and was used; but I suspect its use and the subsequent publicity have more to do with someone's political agenda (make DNA databases look like useful tools) and less to do with real investigative techniques or real science.

  • by Smauler ( 915644 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:50PM (#31529560)

    Not all dogs are registered - to be honest I didn't even know of this database. Unless they actually test clandestinely (perhaps at the vet's), none of the dogs I know are on the database. There have been recent proposals however about compulsary insurance for dogs, which fortunately seem to be not being put through because of their unpopularity and the coming election. Why the fuck they needed the dog's DNA anyway, is confusing. From the BBC []:

    Johnson was arrested as he fled from the scene of the murder in Larkhall Park bare-chested and covered in blood.
    New technology, used for the first time, proved by a billion-to-one probability that some of the blood came from his pit bull-mastiff crossbreed dog, Tyson, which had been knifed during the attack.
    The rest was shown to come from the teenage murder victim.

    FFS, it doesn't take Poirot + CSI to figure this one out, does it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2010 @09:26AM (#31535654)

    Let's hope that oak wasn't part of a clonal colony:

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan