My Turn: New Hampshire must act to outlaw bestiality

Fort the Monitor
Saturday, April 02, 2016

There are certain issues that lawmakers must tackle that are not easily discussed. They are not a part of acceptable dinnertime family conversation. But it is important to address concerns as they arise, no matter how uncomfortable the dialogue, like HB 1547.

It is a bill that establishes the crime of bestiality in New Hampshire. Surprisingly, it is not currently a crime. In fact, New Hampshire is one of only 10 states that doesn’t consider it a crime. We need to change that.

It is one of four categories of animal cruelty the FBI tracks for its Uniform Crime Report. According to FBI analysts, sexual homicide perpetrators have high rates of sexual assault on animals. Even if you set aside basic concerns about animal welfare, tracking animal cruelty is important because those who engage in it are apt to commit crimes against people.

Many law enforcement officials conclude there is a direct link between animal cruelty and violence against women and children.

At the House public hearing on HB 1547, Detective Jeremy Hoffman, a 15-year veteran of the Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia, spoke about his experience as a member of the Child Exploitation Unit and his connection to investigations of the sexual exploitation of animals.

“On numerous occasions,” he said, “I sat across the interview room from these suspects and listened to them tell the stories of their lives, their journey into depriving and sometimes intimate details of their crimes. I realized that much like those in our society who choose to abuse children, those who sexually abuse animals lack any semblance of a moral compass.

“These people not only choose a victim who had no voice, they chose victims who would never have a voice. During my investigations in Virginia for sexual offenses related to animals, evidence was obtained showing that out of 20 offenders, five had committed sexual offenses against children, six possessed or had possessed child pornography, three solicited sex from a minor, and at least one committed sexual offenses against adults.”

Although we might not want to acknowledge it, bestiality does exist here in New Hampshire.

“Beast Forum” is a website used by people seeking out others who engage in bestiality. The website hosts forums where personal advertisements for each state are categorized. The majority of these advertisements are seeking access to animals for sexual gratification or advertising the users’ own animals for the pleasure of others.

I recognize this is not easy to read, but sometimes reality can make us uncomfortable.

Recently, the New Hampshire forum hosted 193 separate advertisements. These threads resulted in over 650 responses from other website users. Two of the threads pertained to HB 1547. Posts urged website users from New Hampshire to fight passage of this bill. These few figures are only representative of activity on one website.

There are other sites that cater to those who desire to abuse animals. Many posts welcome out-of-state visitors to travel to New Hampshire because of our lack of laws prohibiting bestiality and the freedom to practice this behavior. Without any meaningful legislation, our state could ultimately become a preferred place for animal sex offenders to congregate and reside.

Some recently testified at a public hearing in the state Senate that this law doesn’t belong in the sexual assault statutes, that it’s the “first step” toward “humanizing” animals and will set a dangerous course for the state’s farmers and animal breeders. However, HB 1547 passed the New Hampshire House unanimously with very carefully worded provisions to exempt accepted veterinary medical practices and accepted animal husbandry practices. These concerns have been addressed.

Please call your state senator and urge them to support HB 1547.

I recognize this isn’t an easy call, but the crime of bestiality affects both animals and people at risk.

It simply needs to be prohibited in New Hampshire.

(Rep. Katherine Rogers lives in Concord.)