Deliver us from the evils of bestiality

By on May 15, 2017 with 16 Comments

Last week, West Virginia law enforcement officials, with an assist from The HSUS, arrested Victor Zandlo and charged him with suspected abuse of dogs. It was a particularly vicious case of bestiality.

Local rescue groups did their best to help all eight dogs in the house, but they were too late for one member of the pack. Grace had suffered particularly severe and unsettling injuries, and she’s now passed.

We commend the lieutenant of the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office in West Virginia who charged Zandlo with felony-level cruelty. This is an especially significant charge because prosecution for bestiality is rare in West Virginia, one of just eight remaining states in the nation, along with the District of Columbia, that have no specific laws against the sexual abuse of animals.

Ironically, lawmakers in West Virginia introduced an anti-bestiality bill this year, but both chambers failed to act on it. Maybe now they’ll better understand the importance of a legal prohibition against such assault on these non-consenting creatures. Nevada and Vermont did pass anti-bestiality measures, and both await final approval from their governors. In Texas, the state Senate approved an anti-bestiality bill, and House action is pending.

Grace (pictured above) had suffered particularly severe and unsettling injuries, and she’s now passed.

Grace (pictured above) had suffered particularly severe and unsettling injuries.

Animal sexual abuse is a felony in 19 states, a second offense felony in four states, and a misdemeanor in 23 states. Other states without any bestiality laws include Hawaii, Kentucky, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Just a few years ago, 11 states still considered bestiality legal. As with animal fighting and other abuses of animals, The HSUS has been methodically going state by state to close the gaps in the legal framework, and if the chief executives of Nevada and Vermont sign the measures into law, only a half-dozen states will be legally silent on the issue.

Astoundingly, in some states, lawmakers have made catcalls and mocked the idea of addressing this form of animal abuse. In other states, bills have been delayed for years because legislators simply refuse to talk about it. The Kentucky Farm Bureau and the Kentucky Houndsmen Association opposed a bestiality bill in that state, calling it a “slippery slope.” How sad that they neither understand the severity nor the scale of this crime.

Even in states with bestiality laws, enforcement can be lax, and other barriers to a crackdown on the practice exist. Many states that outlaw sexual abuse have archaic language in their statutes that needs to be updated. Abusers try to skirt the law, also, and have done so effectively on occasion. A prime example of this is Sterling Rachwal, a man with a history of abusing horses in Wisconsin, who has been able to successfully use loopholes in the law to appeal and overturn his conviction.

Animal sexual abuse is not the extraordinarily rare occurrence. It’s more common than we’d like to acknowledge in society, and it is often a violent act that frequently precedes child sexual abuse, sexual homicide, and other extreme antisocial behavior.

In a study of over 44,000 adult male sex offenders, researchers concluded that animal sexual abuse is the number one risk factor and the strongest predictor of increased risk for sexual abuse of a child. Some studies have found high rates of sexual assault of animals in the backgrounds of serial sexual homicide perpetrators. This is one reason why bestiality and other forms of animal cruelty are now tracked by the FBI as a Group A offense in the National Incident Based Reporting System, in the same category as rape and murder.

Increasingly, perpetrators use various websites to seek out one another where they often trade, rent, and sell animals for sex. A popular website that appears to be a hub for bestiality enthusiasts boasts over 1.5 million registered users.

The HSUS will continue to work in the states without laws to strengthen and pass laws against bestiality. One dog like Grace, suffering such unspeakable abuse, is one too many. And she’s now just one high-profile victim of a vast underworld of sexual abuse that too many people want to deny or fail to confront in a substantive and serious-minded way.

Categories
Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.

16 Comments

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Natalie Milligan says:

    Punishment should be the same as the worst pedophiles. Animals and children are the innocent. Anyone who uses and/or abuses either child or animal should not be allowed to walk our streets

    • Jewell Kelley says:

      OMG!!! I CAN NOT BELEAVE THIS, BEFORE I READ THIS I DID NOT KNOW WHAT THIS WORD MEANT!!! NEVER HEARD IT BEFORE NOW, I AM 62 YRS. YOUNG AND CAN HONESTLY SAY I WAS APAULED AT THE HUMAN RACE AND WHAT IT’S COME TO, I AM ALMOST ASHAMED TO CALL MY SELF A HUMAN OTHER THAN I LOVE ANY ANIMALS, INSECTS, BIRDS, ETC. AND HAVE GIVEN TO THE HSUS SINCE WELL ITS BEEN SO LONG I CAN’T REMEMBER!!! SOOO KEEP WORKING ANIMAL LOVER’S AND GOD BLESS TO ALL THE FOUNDATIONS, HS, AND ALL!!!

    • zorro says:

      “Bestiality” is a misnomer, since its real meaning is: brutal act on humans not animals.
      Animal sexual abuse is NOT bestiality.

  2. Lisa Pupillo says:

    This is disgustingly troubling. I had no idea there was actually a BUSINESS in bestiality. Also, disgustingly troubling is the fact that only 19 states have a law against it! Yeah, no one wants to talk about it, but when they do nothing about it, they might as well tell those sickos it’s okay to torture these poor innocent animals. These laws HAVE to be in all 50 states and the punishment needs to be severe! Not only are they sick enough to do this to animals, but everyone should know that it’s just a precursor to hurting people.These disgusting wackos have no business walking around free!

  3. sophie says:

    Bestiality is unacceptable in a truly civilized society. I t is an abhorrent, perverse behavior.There should be no debate, no argument .The law should reflect this.Bestiality should not be legal in a ny country

  4. carol says:

    This is a very difficult subject to even contemplate, but you have sensitively educated me about its existence and that it’s much more widespread than anyone would think. Such an abomination on the helpless creatures. Thank you for continuing to educate us. I’m so sorry for Grace and all the other Graces out there being subjected to such pain. Thank you for fighting for them.

  5. Sean Prónay says:

    Thank you for this one, Wayne. Well-written, well-reasoned and well-researched. Only thing it’s missing is a link to the website for Kentuckians mobilizing to outlaw beatiality …

    http://www.wtfky.org

    There – that’s better! 🙂

  6. Rene says:

    I volunteer for the rescue center that has these dogs now. Its beyond imaginable that anyone would do such a sick thing to an animal. It is more disgusting that lawmakers will simply ignore or joke about such things. I am more shocked that we even HAVE to have such a bill. Any civilized individual should know the depravity of a person’s mind to do such a thing. This bill is important and should be across the US and it needs to be vigorously enforced as should dog fighting! I am further troubled by the fact that so many go on site to obtain animals for sex. I question just how far we have come and if we CAN say we are a civilized society.

    • Rhonda Rogers says:

      I completely agree. This makes me sick to my stomach! Thank you, Rene, for volunteering. Please give those sweet babies a warm hug for me!

  7. Patrice Downing says:

    All animals are beautiful & all are precious. They are sentient beings, in the same way human animals are.
    They love their offspring & form family groups , as do humans.
    Think about your mother, sisters, brothers, a father & a grandmother.
    These are the same for all these beautiful animals. Except—- they aren’t generally left alone to be just family. Please, I can’t, talk , write , or whatever discuss with Peta.HSUS & The ASPCA. Please, help them..
    I mean I can’t talk or discuss this. Let the professionals talk with you about it all. Just can’t do it.

  8. Joe De Angelis says:

    Heartbreaking that someone would do this to animals who can not speak for themselves.

  9. Lee says:

    Yes….its hard to fathom…..!

    I have been in rescue for over 10 years and I honestly just became aware of what this….I cant say the word!! And I find it beyond horrifying. And my heart is shattering about Grace…..

    Gentle Spirits Project is a non profit in California, and I am going to fight the GOOD fight….!!

  10. Anne says:

    Can you provide a link to the study you mentioned regarding sex offenders, or a citation? Thank you.

  11. Eddie says:

    Ah typical you see one of the minority cases of it actually being abuse and label all zoophiles as abuser, people will always judge what they don’t understand.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.

Top