Congress should ban malicious animal cruelty and bestiality

By on October 5, 2017 with 16 Comments

Last week, the Kansas City Star reported that an elementary school worker in Springfield was being investigated by federal authorities for pornography involving sexual acts between that individual, a four-year-old child, and a dog.

The facts in this case as we understand them are deeply disturbing and, by all appearances, the U.S. attorney in the region is taking the matter seriously.

We have federal anti-pornography and child exploitation statutes that may enable a prosecution if the facts line up adversely for the suspect. But there’s no federal statute to criminalize a wide range of malicious acts of animal cruelty, including bestiality. In short, there’s a gap in the federal law, and it’s time for the federal government to enact a federal anti-cruelty statute that complements the anti-cruelty standards established in state law.

The legislative embodiment of that idea is the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (H.R. 1494/S. 654) introduced by Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., in the House, and Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in the Senate. Between them, the bills have massive bipartisan support, with more than 260 lawmakers cosponsoring the bills, and they’ve been endorsed not just by The HSUS, but also by the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National Children’s Center, and hundreds of local law enforcement agencies.

The PACT Act would enable the federal government to prosecute malicious acts of animal cruelty on federal property such as military bases, federal prisons, airports, and national parks. It would also enable federal authorities to crack down on the practice of bestiality, which like animal fighting and the “crush video” trade, involves a national subculture where animals are often moved across state lines and where information is exchanged on websites to enable this exploitation to happen.

Such websites are gathering places for people with deviant sexual behavior. One site with more than a million registered users, for example, hosts thousands of advertisements, categorized by state, from people seeking animals to sexually abuse. Craigslist is another online forum used to facilitate bestiality. During any one week, a state’s Craigslist page has dozens of ads from people soliciting or offering animals for sex, often to be transported across state lines. There are still five states that do not prohibit bestiality – Hawaii, Kentucky, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Bestiality is also associated with child pornography and other sexual crimes against humans. During the course of child exploitation investigations, for example, detectives commonly find sexual predators in possession of bestiality materials. In fact, in a study of more than 44,000 adult males evaluated for sexual misconduct, researchers concluded that bestiality is the number one risk factor and the strongest predictor of increased risk of sexual abuse of a child. A study from the University of Tennessee determined that human sex offenders were eight times more likely than the general population to have a history of bestiality.

Sexual predators move their animal victims across state lines to abuse them and there is a predictive association of this behavior with human-to-human sexual abuse. We have federal laws to stop specific acts of cruelty, such as injuring Tennessee walking horses or staging animal fights. The Senate passed the PACT Act last year, but the House failed to act, even though a solid majority of that chamber backed the legislation. It’s past due for both chambers of Congress to adopt a standard against general malicious acts of animal cruelty, including bestiality. Congress can attend to its other legislative priorities and take care of this item too, making animals and people safer in the process.

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Companion Animals, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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16 Comments

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  1. catherine says:

    this is just sick

  2. John & Shirley Valney says:

    It is really pathetic that we need such a law….but obviously we do and congress should act on this immediately. I cannot believe anyone would be against it!

  3. Audrey Engelking says:

    I will gladly sign a petition!!

  4. Fran Leard says:

    This bill should be implemented immediately to protect our animals from these sick low life monsters. This is an outrage and must be signed now to protect all animals.

  5. Jill says:

    Anyone that would participate in such a vile act should be locked up. And I mean FOREVER!!. The sick crimes these monsters commit won’t get any better being among humans and animals of this world.

  6. Eileen Goodman says:

    Our government is inhumane. There seems to be no entity that can or will do anything to prevent animal cruelty abuse, torture.
    He usda is worthless. The BLM sends our wild horses to slaughter with out tax dollars.
    We still have puppy mills, factory farming, sea world, trapping, sport hunting, animal experimenting, canned hunts, thousands of wild animals in cages, the list is endless.
    Money and greed and inhumanity reign supreme. Nothing gets better.
    And the innocent ones suffer, every minute of every day.

  7. Lynne says:

    Child pornography and beastiality are the products is sick and disgusting minds

    Must have strict laws and long prison terms for abusers for first offenses of either act

    • Lynne says:

      Child pornograpy and beastiality are signs of sick mind. Asylums forever are the only solution. Make mandatory for 1st offense

  8. Annoula Wylderich says:

    Animal cruelty and bestiality impact all of us, even those who may not particularly care about animals. These acts of violence and depravity serve to further deteriorate society and are creating the kind of world that we should be concerned about if we care about future generations. We’re all connected, in a sense, and harming any species involves a desensitization that carries over into how humans treat one another. Laws are necessary to deter those who can’t be reached via humane education or other means of compelling society to exercise compassion. Thank you for this piece.

  9. Donald Talley says:

    Congress doesn’t represent the voters anymore . Most career politicians cater to any lobbyists who control the government . Anyone who will provide votes to keep them in office .

  10. Maria Mönch says:

    We has to stop this horror!!, those kind of monsters has to be punished real hard!

  11. Harriet Forman says:

    Validated research- animal abusers “graduate” into “child abusers”
    They must be located and “contained!”

  12. AVIS HOLT says:

    How do we go about making this happen? Are there petitions to sign, etc.?

  13. Katie Cather says:

    Too bad all states and local jurisdictions are not participating in LINK, a project of Society & Animals Forum, with a goal to study and deal with the LINK between violence against animals and violence against humans. Their website is nationallinkcoalition dot org–lots of good info.

  14. ALEXIS ADAMS says:

    It is the right and moral thing to do. No animal needs to be abused. A national animal abuse registry is NEEDED AND WANTED in the USA.

  15. aabbcc says:

    Your attempts to explain your reasons for demanding such a law fall short again.

    Many of the cases you present in “support” of such a law are already crimes and rightfully so.

    Instead I want you to address why people who commit no crime otherwise need to be criminalized. For example someone living with a dog and allowing him to mount her when he likes, but never coercing or forcing him to do so. This law would change the status of those people to criminalize – for all the others you describe it would just add one additional crime and would be quite superfluous actually.

    Still you keep silent about the reasons you see about criminalizing this. Perhaps you know you can not present any arguments besides the opinion you “feel” it is harmful. Trust me, I have tried to find proper arguments over the years but never got farther than “they can’t consent”, based on nothing besides personal opinion. I expect better, especially from antispeciesists.

    Let’s look at this list of arguments:
    “pornography involving sexual acts between that individual, a four-year-old child, and a dog”
    Sexual abuse of a child is already a crime. From the article it is unclear whether the dogs were harmed – it is likely that someone sexually abusing children would also harm dogs, but it’s not a given. Without investigation I can’t tell. The question why exactly this law is needed because of this case is not answered.

    “It would also enable federal authorities to crack down on the practice of bestiality, which like animal fighting and the “crush video” trade, involves a national subculture where animals are often moved across state lines and where information is exchanged on websites to enable this exploitation to happen.”
    This is a red herring. Bestiality and soliciting animals for sex on the internet are two different things. The latter is clearly a problem and there should be laws against it, but it has no logical link to the question whether bestiality should be illegal.

    “One site with more than a million registered users, for example, hosts thousands of advertisements, categorized by state, from people seeking animals to sexually abuse.”
    I see you have discovered beastforum, which clearly deserves to have laws shutting it down. Not just because of the solicitation section but because they incentivize people to create and upload pornography. But again, this has no logical link to the question whether bestiality should be illegal.

    “During the course of child exploitation investigations, for example, detectives commonly find sexual predators in possession of bestiality materials.”
    This argument is double bad:
    First, if there was such a link, it would still be no argument for criminalizing bestiality. You can’t just say that X needs to be criminalized because people who do X also do Y and Y is deservedly criminalized. You do need to explain why X should be criminalized.
    Second, this link sounds *very* ad hoc to me. Unfortunately there are people who get sexual satisfaction from abusing vulnerable and helpless beings – and not seldomly do they abuse both children and nonhuman animals. However this is not the only motivation for people to have sexual contact with nonhuman animals. Many people also have sexual contact with animals because they are Zoophiles, meaning they are sexually attracted to those animals and love them. This group does have no desire or reason to sexually abuse children. You argue for criminalizing this group too, but you omit it completely from your reasoning.

    “In fact, in a study of more than 44,000 adult males evaluated for sexual misconduct, researchers concluded that bestiality is the number one risk factor and the strongest predictor of increased risk of sexual abuse of a child.”
    This study is (probably) not wrong and has value on its own but it does not and can not tell you how likely people who have sex with animals are to abuse children, because it simply did not study at all a representative group of people who have sex with animals. I’m sorry but even if you disagree with everything I say, everyone should be able to see that the selection bias in such a study means that the study can not support your argument here.

    “A study from the University of Tennessee determined that human sex offenders were eight times more likely than the general population to have a history of bestiality.”
    Referencing studies but neglecting to name them is always a red flag by the way. I assume you mean this one? http://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2042&context=utk_graddiss page 66
    The limitations seem usual – very small sample size, and the researchers admit they neglected to ask for intention of both violence towards and sexual contact with animals. Unfortunately they also neglect to set this in relation to their 3.9% non-offenders who had sexual contact with animals. Other studies do a much better job at explaining that this could mean there might be entire populations having sexual contact with animals who are at no higher risk at offending. One example would be Fleming’s study that you have cited numerous times too, on page 42 http://www.animalsandsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/fleming.pdf

    Long story short, your arguments simply fall short of supporting a bestiality ban. You have me on board for laws against soliciting animals for sex on the internet, and of course against coercing and forcing animals to sexual contact. What you do not offer are arguments for blanket banning bestiality. Your only advantage is that most people already believe your premise that bestiality is akin to malicious acts of animal cruelty. As soon as people start questioning this premise you are dead in the water since you don’t have anything to back it up…

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