Pauley Perrette, <EM>NCIS</EM> Pauley Perrette, NCIS

Abby's career is in danger of going to the dogs — literally — when the forensics specialist stubbornly defends a canine suspected of mauling its owner to death in this week's new episode of NCIS (tonight at 8 pm/ET, CBS).

"All the evidence points to the fact that the dog did it," says executive producer Shane Brennan. "But Abby's determined to prove that the dog is innocent." Which leads to an admonishment from Gibbs, who believes the German shepherd is responsible for the death and warns Abby not to get attached.

Her response? "She calls the dog 'Jethro,'" Brennan laughs. "There's a lot of opportunity for humor in it."

The episode also marks one of the rare times the Goth gal leaves the lab — in her very Abby-appropriate car, no less. "We see her driving a car for the first time," explains Brennan. "It's a red hot rod [adorned with] skull-and-crossbones decorations and coffin emblems. It really works."

So any truth to that adage about not working with animals? "Not in this case," Brennan says. "But I did an episode of CSI: Miami with a panther, and that was not much fun, I have to tell you."

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