Source: Faith Bemiss | Democrat
It’s all in a day’s work for Missouri State Fair Forensic Consultant Don Lock, of Jefferson City, who spent Wednesday inside the MSF Coliseum taking muzzle prints of steers weighing up to 1,500 pounds.
Lock who spent 30 years with the Missouri State Highway Patrol as a fingerprint and handwriting expert, has been helping out at the MSF for 24 years. To his estimate, he’s muzzle printed between 15,000 to 18,000 animals in that time.
Last Thursday he and his assistant Andrea Johnson, of Hughesville, muzzle printed goats and lambs in the Sheep Pavilion. Wednesday’s bovine printing, during the 4-H/FFA Steer Show, was a little more high key. A little more testy.
After being exhibited the three top steers, in each category, were muzzle printed. With the help of Austin Coslet, of Marshall, the steers were placed into a cattle chute. Most went quietly. Some did not. The steers were pulled into the chute by Coslet and usually pushed from behind by others. One testy steer decided he wouldn’t move into the chute, backed out quickly and almost took Coslet for a spin.
Once into the chute, and once it was secured, Coslet placed a towel over the steer’s eyes to calm it and Tiffany Dugan, an Ag teacher from Hughesville, wiped the muzzle dry. Lock then applied ink and then print paper.
Lock said one of his most interesting memories muzzle printing steers is when they break loose.
“You see these little kids here?” he said. “You have a little kids with a big steers and we have occasionally what we call a runaway. The steer just gets away and he just goes crazy, it stays in the arena, but it’s almost like a wild horse.”
Muzzle prints are as unique as a human fingerprint and are used to identify the correct animal during competitions.
“What we’re doing now is keeping the honest people honest,” Lock said. “In year’s past, they were doing some switching.”
Years ago Lock muzzle printed the cloned sheep, Dolly, who was cloned at Roslin Institute in Midlothian, Scotland. Dolly was born in 1997 and lived for six years.
“There are no two (muzzles) alike,” he added. “Even cloned animals are different.”
Muzzle printing dates back possibly further than fingerprinting Lock noted.
“You don’t hear as much about muzzle printing because animals don’t burglarize property,” he added laughing.
Lock worked in the MSHP crime lab for three decades, he retired 15 years ago and now runs his own forensic consulting business.
“I’ve been in the forensic field for over 45 years,” he said.
When not involved with muzzle printing, Lock’s main “function” is handwriting examinations for law enforcement and local and state officials. Lock also does fingerprint examinations, photography and crime scene forensics.
“On a daily basis, I do handwriting cases for law enforcement all over the state and country,” he said.
Not all states use muzzle printing, but many do.
“Missouri, they stay with the muzzle printing primarily because of the cost, and it’s fool-proof,” he noted. “There again, muzzle prints are like fingerprints, no two alike.”
Another benefit to the art of printing an animal’s schnoz is time.
“I can muzzle print an animal, and she’ll pull the file print, and I can give her an answer within minutes,” Lock said. “Verses days if you’re going to go with DNA, and DNA is so expensive. So, this is a quick process and it’s a fool-proof process and it works. “
Lock said he enjoys helping people through muzzle printing.
“It’s something I like, and it’s not boring,” he added. “I’m still working, you have to remember I retired from the highway patrol 15 years ago and I’m still working. So, as long as I’m healthy and my mind is still with me, I’m going to keep working in forensics.”