Submission for Necropsy
Whenever possible, submission of the entire animal is preferred. Under ideal circumstances, the animal should be submitted as soon as possible after death. If a period of time must elapse prior to submission, the animal should be kept cold, but not frozen. Freezing produces artifacts that make interpretation difficult. Please include a complete clinical history with all submissions. It is most helpful when the attending veterinarian writes the history.
Herd (Livestock and Horses Only) Health Problems
In cases involving a herd problem, the best specimens for submission are live, acutely affected, untreated animals. When submission of a live animal is not possible, the second best submission would be samples obtained by the submitting veterinarian at the time of field necropsy. Prior to euthanasia, collect blood in red top and purple top tubes. Perform a complete postmortem examination and submit appropriate specimens and a complete history. It is important that the veterinarian select which animals to submit when there is a herd problem.
Euthanasia by the VDL is performed only for food animals intended for necropsy. In general, euthanasia of animals should be performed by the submitting veterinarian to ensure a proper clinical evaluation and appropriate history.
Handling of Animal Remains
At present, the release of any animal remains to owners is prohibited. Our reasons for this policy include the possibility of disease transmission from the laboratory to either the owner or the owner's other animals, and misunderstandings by the owner about the condition of the returned remains. Cosmetic necropsies are not performed.
Animal remains will be disposed of by mass chemical cremation unless the animal owner or the animal owner's personal veterinarian makes arrangements for individual cremation. The VDL does not provide individual cremation services, but may release the remains to a private cremation service (except in the case of animals that have tested positive for rabies or otherwise carry an increased risk of disease transmission). Depending on the policies of the private cremation service, the following types of animals may be acceptable: small companion animals, horses (entire animal or just the head, heart and hooves) and small ruminants or camelids. If a decision regarding individual/mass cremation has not been made at the time of submission, the VDL will hold small animal remains (dog, cat and other small species) for 5 business days. Large companion animal remains will not be held unless specific arrangements are made with VDL personnel. If specific instructions for individual cremation are not provided within 5 business days, the animal remains will be disposed of using mass cremation, and ashes will not be returned to the owner/agent.
Insurance/Legal Necropsy Policies
It is the responsibility of the consignor to alert the laboratory to cases involving insurance or potential legal aspects to ensure full documentation. There may be an additional charge for an insurance necropsy.