Due to their legal status as property, animals are subject to physical and sometimes sexual abuse. While human-animal sex is almost universally condemned, it is not explicitly illegal in 15 states. Florida and Alaska, reacting to incidents of human-animal sex, are now looking to criminalize bestiality. From the Associated Press:
But many in the southeast Alaska community of Klawock, population 800, weren't laughing last April after a 26-year-old registered sex offender was accused of molesting a local family's pet dog.
The man was spotted by a local woman coaxing the Labrador retriever into the woods near a ball field. There he allegedly tied it to a tree, taped its muzzle shut with duct tape and had sex with it, witnesses told police at the time.
The man had been twice convicted of raping a young boy and more recently had served probation for assault after lunging at a child. While the incident with the dog was reported to the police, Klawock Mayor Don Marvin said nothing happened for two days while fearful parents escorted their children home from school.
Because Alaska has no law against such an attack, Ketchikan District Attorney James Scott eventually charged the man with two counts of criminal mischief, which was later changed to a theft charge.
In requesting a $10,000 bail, Scott told the court that the state was concerned that if a small child had been available and unattended that day, "the small child would have been found taped (and) tied in the woods."
Shocked by that and other similar cases of involving humans having sex with animals, lawmakers in Florida and Alaska are considering bans on bestiality. They are among 15 states where the practice is not explicitly illegal.
Alaska's House Judiciary Committee on Friday heard testimony on a measure that would expand the state's animal cruelty law to include sexual conduct. It would make the practice a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.
In Florida, a bill that would make sex with animals punishable by up to five years in prison has been unanimously approved by two Senate committees and has two other committee stops before reaching the full chamber.
I have to admit I was surprised to learn the number of states that had not already criminalized bestiality. I fully support these proposed laws. However, I'm baffled by the assertion of the district attorney that had a small child have been available, the perpetrator would have raped the child instead. Is there any evidence that those that commit acts of bestiality are more likely to molest children? And if so, is there really any reason to think the populations are substitutable? Clearly, both acts are wrong, but I think bestiality should be made illegal solely on the basis of the harm caused to animals. Adding unproven fears of child molestation to the equation is unnecessary alarmism.