Here at Zooey, one thing that we really believe is going to be necessary for the advancement of the “zooey agenda” is a backing from academia. Zoosexuality has enough of a taboo around it for enough people that it’s going to be important to be able to prove scientifically that the more intimate moments that we share with our partners are mutually appreciated. To that end, I’m a fan of science and papers that look at zoos. Not every scientific paper is made equal though. There are some papers published under the name of scientific advancement that are filled with errors and false claims. As zoos, it’s going to be important for us to recognize what makes a good paper, and what makes a bad one. Thankfully, I’ve been given a perfect example to analyze for this.
Recently, I’ve been seeing a paper pop up on Twitter called “Animal sexual abuse - a reality in Portugal and Spain,” written by “Mariana Monteiro Campos Castanheira.” It was originally published back in October of 2019, but I hadn’t seen it at that time, and so I wanted to talk about it now for a little bit. There are a few things I like about this paper, but a lot that I dislike, and I thought that it might be interesting to try and take a critical look at some of the claims that this paper makes. Perhaps in the future, when the zoo movement grows and more and more studies start to come out about us, us going through this paper together right now will help you dissect that future research yourself. Or maybe you just want to know how to reply if you see this specific paper pop up on Twitter. Either way, strap yourselves in, ‘cause this is going to be a bit longer than usual.
For easy reading purposes, I’ll be using a lot of highlighting here.
Text that looks like this is just text from the paper.
Text that looks like this is something from the paper that I’m highlighting because it is relevant to the point I’m making.
And finally, text that looks like this with no highlighting at all is my interjections and commentary on the paper.
If you don’t want to read through the whole paper, that’s totally okay. You can just look for highlights, and then my commentary, and you should get a decent general idea of what the paper is saying, especially when it comes to the flaws that we’ll be pointing out.
Let’s start at the beginning, with the abstract. An “Abstract” in a scientific paper is basically an opening summary. It gives you a few key points about the paper, so that you can tell if it’s what you’re looking for at a glance. And at first, things look okay, although there’s clearly a bit of an undertone to it. And that becomes very clear in the second to last sentence.
The sexual abuse of animals has persisted prehistoric times and is currently studied in the disciplines of history, medicine, psychiatry, veterinary medicine and law. The Portuguese legislation has no explicit reference to sexual contact with animals and the Spanish legislation had recently added “sexual exploitation of animals” which could be interpreted as implying the element of profit. The principal aim of this thesis is to prove that cases of animal sexual abuse in Portugal and Spain are not so infrequent as we may believe. We aim to establish the incidence and frequency of cases of sexual abuse detected by veterinarians in Portugal and Spain and to show that people are actively searching for zoophilic content online in these two countries. An online survey was made and directed to Spanish and Portuguese veterinarians. Our results left no doubt about the existence of such abuses in Portugal and Spain (8.2% of veterinarians in our study had encountered or at least suspected of cases of sexual abuse). Moreover, our analyses via Google Trends proved that people are currently looking for zoophilic content online. With that said, we hope to authenticate the urgent need to change legislation to protect the victims of these abuses and to encourage other investigators to focus on this neglected subject.
At this point, me and the author are generally in agreement. Animal sexual abuse is bad, and it’s important to have proper legislation in effect to be able to punish those that would abuse animals. At first blush, this would be a goal that I think that everyone could get behind. That said, the fact that they add in “zoophilic content” shows a clear implication that they find all kinds of zoosexuality to be lumped in with sexual abuse. Something that clearly isn’t true. But hey, we have a mission statement here. The paper wants to show that abuse is prominent in their corner of the world. Let’s see how they do it.
I - INTRODUCTION
Animal sexual abuse, zoophilia, bestiality (or any other name for the act of a human having sexual contact with an non-human animal) is a colossal taboo in our society. However, the existence of these inhumane acts is undeniable.
And immediately, the mask comes off. This writer is lumping in any kind of human-animal sexual act as abusive. But there’s something else that is important to note here. The author refers to SWA as “inhumane.” When it comes to science, even if it’s social science, a very important consideration is objectivity. That’s what separates scientific fact from opinion. Once you start casting judgment on the things you’re talking about, it becomes less of a scientific journal, and more of something akin to an op-ed, or an article. A blog post. This person is clearly coming in with the idea that sex with animals is bad morally, and that’s going to color any of the other findings that this paper may have. Something to keep in mind as we proceed.
To illustrate, we hear about zoophilic acts in the news, we listen to jokes about them and we have easy online access to zoophilic images and videos.
Over the past few years, many studies have been published on child abuse as well as guidelines to help professionals on this sensitive topic. By contrast, very few have been published on animal sexual abuse. It is actually quite concerning how little investigation has been done on a subject that has lived through our history and culture since prehistoric times.
If you replaced the term “animal sexual abuse” with zoophilia or zoosexuality, I’d actually agree. I think it is really strange that we haven’t invested more time or energy into studying such a common phenomenon. Once again, I’m appreciative of the author’s attempt to call attention to the subject, even if it is for the wrong reasons.
The sexual abuse of animals is a difficult subject even for veterinarians, who more frequently face cases of animal mistreatment and negligence.
Humans have always utilised animals for different purposes. We insist on treating them as our property and to exploit them for our own needs. We use them for food, for clothing, for experimentation, for our entertainment and for countless other things. In this paper we will focus on their use for pleasure, more specifically for sexual pleasure.
We hope this paper will promote awareness and propel this alarming problem into discussion. We also wish to break the silence in the veterinary field and encourage more researchers to focus on this subject. We strongly believe this is an area where several disciplines of animal ethics, animal behaviour, anthrozoology, psychology, mental health, sociology and law need to collaborate.
This paper sets out to unveil the reality of animal sexual abuse in Portugal and Spain. We reviewed some of the literature on this subject as well as the studies that attempted to understand the roots of this human behaviour. Furthermore, we focused on the veterinarian’s role and their importance to detect this kind of abuse, as they are the only professionals equipped with skills to detect injuries associated with this kind of abuse.
As the main goal of our work was to prove animal abuse is not so uncommon in Portugal and Spain, and to break this taboo, we used two different investigation approaches: a questionnaire directed to Spanish and Portuguese veterinarians with the intention of detecting if there have been cases of sexual abuse during the past few years and an analysis of the internet searches related to animal sexual abuse in Portugal and Spain.
This once again sets up their goal as “to prove that animal abuse (although now we know they mean any kind of sex with animals) is prevalent in Spain and Portugal.” That’s going to be important to keep in mind in just a minute. Again, I totally agree that we’re going to need to involve all sorts of different disciplines when it comes to how to create a better society for zoos, and I’m incredibly supportive of that narrative.
II – LITERATURE REVIEW
1. What is Zoophilia?
Authors from distinct areas, such as criminology, psychiatry, veterinary medicine, etc., define sexual contact between humans and animals differently. The most common used words to describe sexual relation with animals are zoophilia and bestiality. In the historical literature the most common word is bestiality. On the other hand, zoophilia is the term most ordinarily utilized by clinicians to refer to the erotic attraction to animals or the sexual contact with animals. The word “zoophilia” originates from two Greek words zoion (animal) and philos (friend, love). Thus, the person who engages in sex with animals is called zoophile or zoo. Yet distinctive terms and definitions have been used in the literature when alluding to sexual relations amongst animals and humans. To give an example, Masters (1966) defines zoophilia as “a paraphilia of the stigmatic/eligibilic type, in which sexuoerotic arousal and facilitation or attainment of orgasm are responsive to and dependent upon engaging in cross-species sexual activities…”. Later, Beirne, in 1997, proposes the term interspecies sexual assault, as it is less anthropocentric then the common term bestiality.
According to some zoophiles, the difference between zoophilia and bestiality is zoophilia includes an emotional relation with the animal and bestiality just involves a sexual contact. Miletski (2002) recommends using the term zoophilia when referring to emotional attachment to animals, preference for them as sexual partners or any sexual attraction towards animals. On the other hand, the term bestiality should only be used when describing a sexual contact between humans and animals.
Munro 2006, propounds the view that the term zoophilia focuses on the human abuser instead of focusing on the animal, the one that suffers harm. For that reason, the author believes the term “animal sexual abuse” is more appropriated.
Due to the existence of different terms to describe sexual contact with animals and their vagueness, recently, in 2011, Agrawall proposed a new classification of zoophilia, dividing it in 10 different classes: Class I Zoosexuals: human-animal role players – this class includes all the individuals that get excited with the though of having sex with animals but they do not use animals for sex, they rather ask their human- partners to act like animals during sex. Class II Zoosexuals: romantic zoophiles – individuals who keep animals as pets to get psychosexual stimulation but don´t have sex with them. Class III Zoosexuals: people having a zoophilic fantasy – zoophilic fantasizers – these people fantasize about having sexual contact with animals but don´t actually do it. However, they may masturbate in the presence of the animal. Class IV Zoosexuals: tactile zoophiles – those who get sexually excited by touching, stroking or fondling an animal or his/her genital parts. Some of them also rub their genitals on the animals. Class V Zoosexuals: people having a fetishistic zoophilia - fetishistic zoophiles – individuals who use parts of animals, like fur, to excite them. Class VI Zoosexuals: sadistic Bestials – individuals that torture animals for sexual pleasure. Class VII Zoosexuals: Opportunistic zoosexuals – people that normally wouldn´t have sex with animals but if no one is around and they have the opportunity, they do it. Generally, individuals on this class don´t love animals at an emotional level. Class VIII Zoosexuals: regular zoosexuals – people who have sex with both animals and humans but prefer animals. These individuals tend to love animals and do not want to hurt them. Class IX Zoosexuals: homicidal bestials – individuals who kill animals in order to have sexual pleasure. Although they can have sexual intercourse with live animals, they prefer with the dead animal body after killing the animal. Class X Zoosexuals: exclusive zoosexuals – this class includes humans who have sexual relations exclusively with animals.
1.1 Different forms of sexual contact with animals
There is a huge range of described sexual activities between humans and animals. Such activities include oral contact (mouth kissing or oral-genital contact), anal and vaginal penetration of the animal by humans and vice-versa. They may also include exhibitionism (exposing genitals to animals), frotteurism (rubbing the genitals on the animal) and voyeurism (for example to look trough windows to watch dogs).
Massen (1994) distinguishes nine basic forms of zoophilia: 1 – incidental experience and latent zoophilia; 2 – zoophilic voyeurism (also called mixoscopic zoophilia); 3 –frottage (physical contact as a source of pleasure); 4 – the animal as a tool for masturbatory activities; 5 – the animal as a surrogate object for a behavioral fetishism (sadomasochistic practices, sexual murder, etc.); 6 – the animal as fetish; 7 – physical contact and affection; 8 – the animal as a surrogate for a human sex partner; 9 – the animal as deliberately and voluntarily chosen sex partner.
There’s little to add in this part. The author is just making sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding what exactly a zoo is. To their credit, they even added some of the more generous definitions, which I appreciate. That said, if you’re a zoo, you probably already know most of this, even if you haven’t actually seen the terms used. I will say, although this is a little bit of a tangent, that all of the “classes” of zoophiles feels a little redundant to me. It’s not as if there’s “classes” of any other kind of human sexuality. Like, imagine reducing homosexuality to a number of classes. From a straight guy that likes pegging to a guy that goes to a gay bar but doesn’t hook up, to a guy that’s gay and happy with his life, to a rapist that kills their gay partners. And then having to say “and all of those people are gay” without addressing the obvious outlier in the room. To me, it sits weird, but I can understand the need of science to try and classify things. I much prefer the methods of classification used by Doctor Zidenburg in her 2022 study “Measurement and Correlates of Zoophilic Interest in an Online Community Sample.” To this current author’s credit, that study didn’t exist at the time of writing. Anyway, moving on to something more interesting.
2. History of Zoophilia – from prehistoric times to nowadays
Bestiality has been prevalent in all cultures and continents since the dawn of history. Besides the fact this kind of practice has been punished in several cultures, it has persisted through time in art, literature and sexual behaviours. There are records of these practices since mankind were cave dwellers. Waine (1968) believes our ancestors frequently had sexual relations with animals, based on discovered cave drawings.
In ancient Egypt, many sexual activities were also recorded. For instance, some members of royalty had the reputation of participating in such acts. Ancient Romans had bestiality shows at the Coliseum where animals raped women and sometimes men. There are also records of roman women training snakes to use them to masturbate. Sexual intercourse with animals on stage was also common in ancient Greece and bestiality was frequent in Greek mythology. For example, there is a myth regarding the wife of Minos (the king of Crete) who fell in love with a bull and in order to have sex with him disguised herself as a cow.
Even in the Middle Ages some people believed that sexual relations with animals were healthy and could even cure some diseases. To give you an illustration, bestiality is represented in Khajuraho temples. However, at the beginning of the 8th century, in Spain, it was decided to give 20 years penance for those who committed bestiality. At this time, what people most feared was that a sexual relation with an animal would result in a child that was half-human, half-animal with a demon like appearance. For this reason, at the end of Middle Ages bestiality was greatly persecuted. Even in the sacred books, the Torah, the Bible, the Psalms and the Quran, we can find the presence of zoophilic acts.
It feels weird to throw out the one line about how bestiality has been “punished in several cultures,” and then go on to talk about how common and generally well received it has been in all of the actual examples used. It really reads like the author was trying to find more examples of it being persecuted, then they mostly just found situations where it was either normal or accepted. That said, it does end up reading really positively. Bestiality and SWA has always existed all around the world. It’s as natural as anything else for us to be interested in the animals we share the planet with. And the fact that the reason it suddenly became bad was because of such a strange and impossible claim as human-animal-demon babies really gives rise to the idea that society turned on zoos because of a sense of misplaced religious moralism more than any real rationale. Speaking of which!
Despite the fact that it has always been a reality from past to present, zoophilia is still a taboo in our society. Unlike other sexual practices, zoophilia is not discussed on social media.
There are two ways to interpret this line. Either, and I really hope this is the right option, the author meant this as a joke, talking about how generally zoos aren’t as public about their attraction, and they just worded it very poorly. Or, and I think this is the more likely answer, and speaks to the mindset of the author, they didn’t really do the research on the zoo side of things, and since they don’t see a zoo social media movement on their own personalized timeline, that means that there are no zoos on social media. Once again to give the author some benefit, it’s true that the scene wasn’t as big then as it now is today. But it’s still just factually wrong to say that “Zoophilia is not discussed on social media.” There have been zoo boards and zoo chat rooms for about as long as there have been boards and chat rooms on the internet: it would take only a very cursory search to find zoophilia having been discussed on social media before. So even if the social media presence of zoophilia is not the ultimate point of this scientific paper, making claims to facts that are so easily shown to be incorrect is not a good way to engender credibility.
Nonetheless, occasionally news about animal sexual abuse is posted on social media around the world, showing that this kind of abuse still happens today. For example, a woman in South Carolina was accused of having sex with her pet dog and recording it. In London, 2016, a doctor was found guilty of possessing footage of zoophilia, including a video of a man having sex with a snake. In January, 2017, a man in Florida was accused of having sex with a pitbull, his female dog, on more than 100 occasions.
We’ve had some horrific news of these pratices in Portugal and Spain as well in recent years. For example, in Girona in 2010, a man declared to the media that 30 of his sheep had been stolen and that the thieves sent him a movie of one of the animals being sexually abused. Later, in Spain, a man was caught having sex with his own female dog. There was a case shared in Portugal’s newspapers in May of 2016 claiming that a 80 year old man was suspected of mistreating and sexually abusing two female dogs in the city of Santarém.
While a lot of what the author is saying is just facts, it’s important to once again examine the tone they’re saying it with. Some of the stories they they’re talking about are awful, don’t get me wrong. There are monsters that do abuse animals, and that’s a thing that should be reported on. But the word usage leans heavily to imply a strong moral wrongdoing on even examples where the only “crime” is that a human and an animal had sex. It’s framing all of these situations not just as events that happened, it’s adding an emotional level to it.
Still in 2016, another man was found to own hundreds of files with child pornography and was a subscriber of a paid online channel of animal pornography.
As a matter of fact, the internet plays a huge role in the presence of zoophilia nowadays. Pornographic content on the Internet involving animals is extremely easy to find. There are erotic stories, videos and even personal stories available and easily accessible. Some websites even provide instructions on how to engage in sexual contact with different species. Additionally, the internet is a common way for zoophiles to get in contact with each other via chatrooms.
By simply typing a few keywords into a search engine (e.g., Google) it is extremely easy to find pornography online. Every day, up to 25% (68 million) of all Internet search engine requests are for pornography.
Online you can find the most sadistic videos involving animal sexual abuse, including mutilation, torturing, beating and burning animals. Sometimes animals need to be sedated, tranquilized or stunned to make such kinds of abuse possible. Crush videos are a good example of these kind of sadistic practices available online.
Once again, it feels like all of this is an accusation. There’s no need to mention in the first sentence that the man had a bunch of child porn if you’re not trying to make a link between child porn and zoo porn. And the whole last few sentences heavily imply that the pornography that zoos are watching is all sadism. None of what’s being said right here is wrong, but the way it’s being said shows the clear bias that the author has on the subject, which is not something you like to see in a scientific paper.
3. Is Zoophilia a mental disorder?
Several studies prove that sexual contact with animals is not as uncommon as we may think it is. For instance, Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martini, in 1948, studied the sexual behaviour of 5300 American men and reported that 1 in 13 men have had sexual relations with animals. Although the majority of these men were farm boys who had sex only with animals on many occasions, the study included men in their 50s and also one man over 80 years old. Later, in 1953, the sexual behaviour of 5792 American women was analysed by the same investigation team. Results showed that 5% of those women had already had sexual relations with animals. The data gathered by Hunt in 1974 concluded that the prevalence rate for zoophilia was 4.9% for men and 1.9% for women.
Alvarez and Freinhar (1991) reported that 55% of psychiatric patients enrolled in the study had at least one sexual fantasy or contact with animals. A study involving a sample of college students, led by Henry in 2004, revealed that both men and women admitted having sexual relations with animals in the past. Despite the referred studies, there is still a huge lack in research on the prevalence of sexual contact with animals in the total population.
Another point that I think the author and I could probably agree on. I would love to see more studies into the zoo population in society. Especially looking at people who have zoophilic fantasies but wouldn’t necessarily have sex with an animal, since I think there’s a lot of people who wouldn’t come out and label themselves as zoos, but watch a lot of digital zoo porn.
Recently, data from 16 tertiary urology or oncology centers was collected in 12 Brazilian cities. All 492 subjects (118 patients and 374 controls) lived in rural zones during childhood and adolescence and were exposed to animal contact. The results showed that 31.6% of men in the control group and 44.9% of patients with penile cancer had already had sexual relations with animals. Following this study in 2016 a report case regarding a 52 year old farmer with penile carcinoma also pointed to the possible relation between zoophilia and penile cancer.
This is a very confusing way to word the results of this study, so let me get into it a bit. The base study took 492 people and tested them to see if they had penile cancer. Of them, 118 did. Of those 118 people, 45% percent (53) reported having sex with animals. They then compared that number to the percentage of people who will have penile cancer generally, 32%. The conclusion was then that having zoo sex gives you a 13% increased chance to get penile cancer. That said, there are some really important details to look at that often get overlooked.
First of all, 118 people is not a great sample size. It’s pretty good for a high school deciding who’s prom queen that year, but considering how often this Brazilian study is cited, it really doesn’t have a lot of weight behind it. A disparity of 13% could easily be explained by the small sample. It could also be a ton of other factors. For instance, this study takes place in rural Brazil on farms. Is there a possibility that the animals tend to be in unhealthy states, which could contribute to the problem? Are the animals usually dirty, and so there’s more grime involved in the sexual process? Another thing to look at would be the prevalence of liars. Even in rural Brazil there’s probably a decent population of people who have sex with animals, but don’t want to admit it. Chances are, people who are more educated with more “to lose” would be less likely to talk about having sex with animals for fear of repercussions. There’s no way of knowing how anonymous the admission process was, and so it’s very possible that there are more people who have sex with animals, who don’t have penile cancer but didn’t declare it. All in all, I don’t think this study is a bad thing. In fact, I’m a big supporter of research like this. If there are health concerns that arise from zoosexuality, it’s important to be aware of it. That said, one small study one time with a result that’s entirely harmful to the human in the relationship shouldn’t be enough to claim that sex with animals is inherently bad for you, much less that it’s bad for the animals.
Actually, there are several possible injuries in humans when sexual contact with animals happens, for example penile injuries, rectal trauma and anal injuries. The media does not often discuss the health risk of these contacts; neither do animal rights advocates or lawmakers.
This sentiment is always so annoying to me. The fact that sex can cause injuries is obvious. There’s that exact same potential in human on human sex, or even animal on animal sex. The same way that there’s potential risk taking your dog to the park. Your dog could get hit by a car, step on something sharp, get attacked by another dog. And yet, nobody’s claiming that you shouldn’t take dogs to parks, and that you should instead just let them run around the back yard. There is nothing here to suggest extra risk in an animal having sex with a human, so long as their sizes are compatible, and both partners are receptive to the encounter.
Several zoonoses can be transmitted via sexual contact between animals and humans, such as leptospirosis, echinococcosis and rabies.
Much like the last point, this is a false sentiment. Yes, you can theoretically catch these things having sex with animals. But that’s one very unlikely way to get these diseases. Leptospirosis is most commonly transmitted through bad water, rabies you certainly don’t need to fuck to transmit, and echinococcosis is a parasite that exists in animals’ stool, so unless you’re eating shit you should be safe from that too. And all of that isn’t even to mention the most important part. All of these, as well as all zoonotic diseases, aren’t created from human animal sex. They only exist if an animal is already sick. Much like human sexually transmitted diseases, if you fuck around with people you meet on the street you’re putting yourself at more risk, but if you’re having sex with people you know and trust you’re doing a lot to mitigate that risk.
In order to get an insight into the reasons why people participate in this kind of sexual contact with animals, many studies have been developed. Miletski’s study, in 2002, concluded that people who had sexual contact with animals had love feelings for animals, fantasies and sexual attraction. Some participants even reported that they were happy and didn’t intend to stop having sex with animals.
I just wanted to take the opportunity to call out the tone again here. The choice of the word “even” is important: The fact that the author calls this out specifically as a point of shock really tells their opinion on the subject matter in a very non-scientific way.
What’s more, the majority of participants in Beetz’s study reported that the reason for having sex with animals was “innate”, and in the William and Weinberger study 70% of participants chose the option “sex with animals is pleasurable” to justify those acts. Furthermore, Beirne believes there are four main reasons why people engage in sexual activities with animals: sexual fixation on animals, sexual commodification, adolescent sexual experimentation and aggravated cruelty.
Although people often associate animal sexual abuse with farmers or less educated people, some studies revealed quite the opposite: people who have sexual relations with animals tend to have more education than the general population.
As a way to describe the different levels of attraction towards animals, Donofrio (1996) suggested the use of a similar scale to Kinsey’s scale, starting at 0, regarding people with no attraction to animals, up to 6, attributed to people exclusively attracted by animals. Scores in the middle would correspond gradually to: 1 – people who have animal sexual contact just in their fantasies or had incidental experiences with animals; 2 – someone who had more than incidental sexual contact with animals; 3 – people that have the same amount of sexual relations with animals as with humans; 4 – individuals who prefer sexual relations with animals but have some relations with humans; 5 – individuals that have primarily sexual relation with animals and just some incidental human sexual relations .
The first time zoophilia was listed as a paraphilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) was in 1980 with the definition: “The act or fantasy of engaging in sexual activity with animals is repeatedly preferred or the exclusive method of achieving sexual excitement”. In the next edition DSM-IV the American Psychiatric Association (APA) included zoophilia in the “paraphilias not otherwise specified”. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), animal abuse is one of the symptoms of a psychological dysfunction and they claim “zoophilia is virtually never a clinically significant problem by itself”. In the latest edition, DSM-V, zoophilia is still included in “other specified paraphilic disorder”. This means zoophilia is not considered a diagnosable mental health problem unless it causes distress to the person who engages in the practice. Likewise, The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) refers to patterns of sexual preference and activity and includes a reference to sexual contact with animals and it does not classify it as a disease by itself.
3.1 Relation with other forms of abuse
There is a clear connection between bestiality and violence. However, research on this area only supports the association with violent cases of bestiality. The link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence is well established but there is still insufficient research to support the link between animal sexual abuse and interpersonal violence.
To translate that, even though the first sentence is literally “there is a clear connection between bestiality and violence,” what this actually means is “in cases where sexual violence against animals was found, there’s a link to violence against other humans too.” But also, the author literally states that there isn’t any link between sex with animals and interpersonal violence. You could very easily argue that the first and last sentence there are oxymoronic, but the author felt it necessary to add in that first sentence just in case their stance wasn’t clear enough.
Besides that, there have been some studies that indicate that zoophilia is often associated with other paraphilias and/or violent behaviours.
Abel and his collaborators (1988) reviewed 14 cases of bestiality in a sample of 561 adult male patients diagnosed with a paraphilia and verified that bestiality was most commonly associated with incestuous and non-incestuous female pedophilia, voyeurism and exhibitionism. When they questioned a group of prisoners, Miller and Knutson (1997) reported that 11% of the individuals had seen or engaged in sexual contact with animal. The following year, Duffield and his colleagues (1998) found that 20% of children who sexually abused other children had already sexually abused animals, suggesting that zoophilia can be an indicator that other paraphilias may exist in the patient. Later, in 2002, Fleming and his collaborators studied a group of institutionalized male adolescents and reported 6% of the 381 individuals affirmed having had sexual relations with animals and 96% of them also reported sex offences against humans.
Two important points here. First of all, sample size. The first study might say “561 adult males,” but it’s important to note that that group is everyone that participated, not specifically those that were animal attracted. That group was only 14 people. And 14 is not a great sample size. Also, in this and many of the studies cited here, they’re specifically talking about prison populations. It makes a lot of sense that people that are incarcerated for sex crimes are going to have more of a history of sex crimes. This doesn’t speak to anything of all the zoos out there who are happily living their lives not in prison. In fact, considering these studies were conducted in the United States where it’s rare for someone to get arrested for animal sex crimes on their own, it’s much more likely that these are people who took advantage of an animal, as opposed to people who are actually interested in zoosexuality.
Another relevant study on this subject with 180 adult participants who had committed child sexual abuse revealed that 36.1% of the individuals also had sexual relations with animals.
Current research on animal sexual abuse supports the view that this behaviour during childhood may predict violent behaviours or abnormal sexual behaviours in adulthood. Hensley, Tallichet and Singer (2006) investigated groups of prisoners and reported that 75% of subjects who had sexual relations during their infancy or adolescence with animals had been convicted of crimes against people, including rape and murder. Indeed, only 5% of prisoners convicted of crimes against persons did not have a history of animal sexual contact in their infancy or adolescence. Later, in 2010, the same group of investigators reported results consistent with the previous ones. They studied a group of prisoners who had sexual contact with animals during their childhood or adolescence and found they were more likely to commit crimes against people and to revert to these behaviours in adulthood, compared to the individuals who had not engaged in sexual acts with animals. As a matter of fact, in 2008 Abel affirmed that animal sexual abuse committed during childhood is a strong predictor of committing child abuse as an adult. More recently, in 2014, Schenk and collaborators showed significant result in their study, comprising this view: 81.25% of juvenile individuals who committed sexual offenses against humans admitted having had sexual relations with animals during childhood.
There is for sure a link between juveniles who harm animals, and violent crime later in life. Generally, this is thought to happen because animals tend to be easy victims for those who are looking to cause harm. The way that the author wants you to read this is that people who harm animals are zoosexuals, and therefore being zoosexual makes you predisposed to commit violent crime in the future. However, that’s looking at this entirely backwards. All ketchup is tomatoes but not all tomatoes are ketchup. What this data actually shows is that if you harm animals as a kid, it’s likely that you harm humans growing up. This says absolutely nothing about zoos, as the only sample is people in prison who harmed humans. It is absolutely not at all relevant, and is only included as a frankly transparent attempt to spin a narrative.
Regarding the consumption of animal pornography, in 2013 Seigfried-Spellar and Roger surveyed 630 adult men and women on pornography consumption with bestiality, as well as child pornography consumption and concluded that users who watched child pornography were more likely to watch animal pornography. Very recently, in 2016, Seigfried-Spellar confirmed that, statistically, individuals who consumed adult pornography were more likely to consume animal pornography, and animal pornography users were statistically more likely to consume child pornography.
I honestly don’t know what this means. Literally translated, this says “If you watch porn of adults, you’re more likely to watch porn of animals.” That makes sense to me. If you don’t watch porn at all, it’s unlikely, in fact impossible, that you specifically watch zoo porn. But then “If you watch animal porn you’re more likely to watch child porn.” Based off the implication, you could also say that “If you watch adult porn you’re more likely to watch child porn.” The statement may have some toehold in statistical reality, but is getting into either pointless truisms or percentages of percentages that become unfair characterizations of the situation very quickly.
There seems to be a link between the abuse of animals and the abuse of humans. Animal abusers are known to exhibit violence towards their own relatives more often than strangers. For that reason, veterinarians are the ones who can help break the cycle of family violence by reporting suspicious cases.
4. The Veterinarian’s role
Veterinarians are an essential tool to access information on animal abuse cases. Besides this, they can help to prevent some offenders from committing more crimes against other animals by reporting cases to authorities. Unfortunately, animal sexual abuse is a difficult and uncomfortable issue and it may be considered taboo, even in the veterinary community.
Veterinarians can be called to give expert testimonies on cases of animal abuse and mistreatment. Therefore, all veterinarians should be properly prepared and informed. Most of the time they will be asked to submit an expert report which is vital to the court case. Although, when talking about sexual abuse, the problem relies on the fact that this subject is rarely mentioned in veterinary textbooks. For example, obstetric/gynecology veterinarian textbooks almost never mention sexual abuse as a differential diagnosis of vaginal injuries.
The veterinary pathology field has a special relevance as it can provide evidence on how the abuse happened. Indeed, veterinary pathologists can access detailed information regarding the physical injuries of the animal, as they provide some insights on methods and possible motives for committing such acts. Histopathology and forensic examinations are crucial in criminal investigations and prosecutions. Recently, in 2016, Stern and Smith-Blackmore outlined a forensic investigation approach to the body of a suspected victim of sexual abuse, including an alternate light source examination, collection of swabs for DNA analysis, sampling vaginal washes, rectal washes and toenails for trace evidence and biologic analyses; radiographic studies and a complete forensic necropsy, including histopathology.
Veterinary clinicians also have an important role in detecting cases of sexual abuse. Generally, the clinicians will only suspect that sexual contact occurred if the animal presents suspicious injuries at the examination. Surely cases of sexual abuse (even with penetration) are extremely difficult to detect in the veterinary clinic.
Another important fact to note is that people with pets would prefer to report a suspected mistreatment to the clinician than to a law entity. Thus, veterinarians have a role as advocates for animals welfare and are crucial in the prevention of animal abuse. However, very few studies have tried to access the relevance of animal sexual abuse in the veterinary community. Munro and Thrusfield (2001) analysed cases reported by 404 veterinarians in the UK. The results showed that 6% of those veterinarians reported sexual abuse. This study showed for the first time that animal sexual abuse is a huge and relevant problem that veterinarians encounter in their clinics. A survey made in the Republic of Ireland in 2005 and also directed to veterinary surgeons detected only one case involving sexual abuse. A few years later, in 2011, Williams and collaborators also used a questionnaire as a method to study the recognition of animal abuse by veterinarians. Their results were consistent with the Murno and Thrusfield study, reporting a 6% prevalence of sexual abuse.
This is a long segment that basically says “Vets should be able to recognize sexual abuse.” And to that, I absolutely agree. I think it’s very important for vets to be able to tell when something is wrong. It’s true that animals have a much harder time speaking up for themselves. And so if there’s clearly damage related to sexual activity present on a vet’s patient, I would hope that they have the knowledge and ability to report that to the proper authorities. Where the author’s opinions and my own probably differ is on sex in general being abusive. I would absolutely love to sit down with a vet and talk about the actual mechanics of sex with animals on a biological level, but unfortunately due to the backlash that vet would receive, it’d be very hard to find someone willing to both share their credibility and also have that conversation. Something for the future, hopefully.
- Physical and psychological damage of the victim
This sort of abuse can happen to several different species. It’s not only with farm animals, as people may think. It has been reported on calves, dogs, horses, sheep, goats, swine, cats, fowls and even with dolphins.
The size and anatomy of the abused animal are important factors to take into account when analysing the possible injuries caused by sexual intercourse. To give an illustration, intercourse between a large animal and a human may not result in physical damage while with a small animal the damage could be huge.
Sometimes, these abuses can cause severe injuries and the animal may even die.
Once again, this is saying a lot more than just the facts. “This sort of abuse” once again categorizes everything together, from normal zoo relationships to actual abuse. In the second highlighted section, I find it funny how they feel like they need to cover for the fact that they said something that could be construed as positive. Of course, they need to specify that intercourse may not result in specifically physical damage, leaving the door open for other kinds of damage. But also, they felt like it was important to immediately follow that up with how bad having sex with small animals can be.
Still, not all cases of animal sexual abuse present obvious injuries. Munro speculated that this sort of abuse towards animals is similar to cases towards children: extremely hard to recognize because it is possible that there are no injuries. Ascione, in 1993, had already identified the parallel with children sexual abuse, considering all the cases cruel even if there is no physical harm towards the animal, as it is impossible for the animal to consent to the act. There have not yet been rigorous investigations into animal behaviour to prove that there are psychological injuries in cases of sexual abuse. However, assuming those injuries do not exist is also wrong.
I would argue that it’s much more harmful to assume that those injuries do exist, as this study clearly claims to. When there’s zero evidence for something, saying that “we should assume that it exists anyway” is frankly entirely unscientific. In fact, it’s far more characteristic of religious zealotry, the likes of which you would see in a witch trial. Unlike that point of view, there is actual evidence to support that animals commonly enjoy having sex with humans, so I would say it makes much more sense to assume that in consenting sexual relationships, there is no psychological harm.
Physical injuries vary depending on the type of sexual acts, the animal’s size, what the abuser used to assault and if an object was used, the form and size of it. Munro and Thursfield affirmed that the physical findings are quite similar to those found in human victims of sexual abuse. Some reported injuries are: vaginal and anal trauma with hemorrhage; uterine and cervix trauma; anal necrosis; anal dilatation; and damages in the scrotum and testicles. In horses there have been reports of vaginal evisceration of the small intestine and the colon and injuries in the cloaca/vent in birds. In Merck’s opinion, recurrent vaginitis may also be indicative of sexual abuse. Inflicted injuries can be found outwith the genital area if the abuser uses their force to contain the animal. For example, if the aggressor pulls the tail, fractures of the coccygeal vertebrae may occur (see figure 2). If the act is committed by a zoosadist, multiple injuries may be observed, as torture is a part of their sexual gratification. Sadistic actions can inflict countless injuries such as fractures, abrasions from fingernail scrapings and injuries in the optic canal. Besides that, one of the most frequent causes of death in sexually abused animals is strangulation, similar to cases of human sexual assault.
That whole paragraph is a lot, but basically it comes down to “When animals are sexually abused, it tends to happen around the genitals, and the severity changes based on size and if tools are used.” Which, fair, but as far as proving the point of the paper, really only exists to try and frame all human animal sex as harmful, without making any effort to actually prove that.
6. Lack of legislation
Only some countries in Europe prohibit the production, distribution and possession of pornography with zoophilia. For example, France prohibits sexual acts with animals in its Penal Code. Germany has an animal protection law that also prohibits these kinds of acts and Denmark was one of the last European countries to ban zoophilia.
In the United States it differs according to the state. Of the 50 states, 45 have a provision that criminalizes engaging in sexual contact with animals. Hawaii, New Mexico, West Virginia and Wyoming, as well as the District of Columbia, do not have laws addressing this conduct. For this reason, some zoophiles, as we can see on the British documentary Animal Passions, move from one state to another to be able to have sex with animals and even marry them in unofficial ceremonies.
Pornography involving animals can be easily found in Spanish territory, as it is publicly available and legal. In 2013, the Justice and Animal Defense Observatory (OJDA) made a report to the Draft Organic Law amending the LO 10/1995, dated November 23, of the Criminal Code, presented both to the Ministry of Justice of the Congress and the Senate of the different Political groups with parliamentary representation. After that, the art. 337.1 CP has undergone modifications with respect to its previous regulation. Sexual exploitation of animals was added as an abuse, an issue not previously contemplated and that will give courts the power to punish such behaviours.
“Art. 337.1 CP115: 1. Shall be punished with the penalty of three months and one day to one year of imprisonment and special disqualification of one year and one day to three years for the exercise of profession, trade or commerce related to animals and animal husbandry, Who, by any means or procedure, mistreats them unjustifiably, causing them injuries that seriously impair their health or subject them to sexual exploitation, to:
a) a domesticated or tamed animal;
b) an animal of which are normally domesticated;
c) an animal that temporarily or permanently lives under human control;
d) any animal that does not live in the wild. “
This part is once again just fact, although there is something kind of funny to take away from the Spanish law. Based off the wording, you can’t have sex with any animals that live in human society, but if you wanna go out and try to fuck a deer, or a bear, then all power to you. It’s only “abusive” if it’s a domesticated animal. While I can understand why it probably isn’t necessary to include wild animals, at the same time it feels weird that they drilled down so much on making the distinction. But again, that much is just a tangent to have a little ponder over, more to do with the apparent law than to do with the paper at hand.
The Spanish legal system finally recognized that non-human animals can also be victims of sexual abuse and created legal tools to be able to pursue these behaviours. According to Rodríguez (2015), the current configuration of the crime of animal mistreatment as an offense makes it impossible to prosecute a sexual abuser, since not all kinds of animal sexual abuse may imply physical consequences. Furthermore, even if injuries are present, it is very difficult to prove the relation between such injuries and the act itself. Besides that, specific incorporation of the behaviour of subjecting an animal to sexual exploitation establishes it as an activity, not demanding a specific criminal charge result, as mere action constitutes the crime. The problem is that the term “sexual exploitation” is not new to Spanish legislators. This term is used several times in the Penal Code referring to humans and implies the element of profit. Therefore, it seems that the profit motive will also be an essential element to be considered by the judge when the sexual exploitation of animals is applied. Regrettably, this legislative decision runs the risk of protecting animals only against animal procuring, and not against any sexual abuser.
Sánchez, lawyer of SPAP (Protector Society of Animals and Plants in Madrid) also believes that the word “exploitation” shouldn´t be used since it connotes the concept of profit making.
According to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (cited by Sánchez, N.D) “exploitation” means: 1. To take advantage of a business or industry for one’s own benefit. 2. To use the work or the qualities of another person abusively for one’s own benefit. To Sánchez “it would be more appropriate to include the criminalization of both sexual exploitation and the sexual abuse of animals. In this way, sexual abuses in the private sphere would be typified without leaving room for interpretive differences”.
Another issue emphasized by Corbacho (2015) is that animals protected in this code are determined by a certain anthropocentrism since all those animals directly and indirectly depend on humans to subsist and are under our control and influence. The author also believes that this reform, including the penalization of sexual abuse, was indispensable, since in most countries around Spain as well in the most developed ones, regarding animal law, there are legal provisions prohibiting all kinds of sexual abuse towards animals and prohibiting the use of non-human beings for sexual purposes.
In May of 2017, Portugal changed the legal status of non-human animals from things to sentient beings. Besides the fact that this change was historical, and animals may no longer be “things” according to law, they are still used and abused as if they were. Portuguese legislation has no explicit reference to sexual contact with animals. As a matter of fact, the only way to prosecute someone that has had a sexual encounter with an animal is by proving that the animal suffered pain or has any physical evidence of mistreatment.
Based off of this interpretation of the Spanish and Portuguese laws, they actually sound pretty great. I’m no lawyer, and don’t really know the details of both those countries’ legal systems, so take this with a grain of salt, but as a general rule that sounds pretty ideal as far as what most zoos would want the laws to look like. No exploitation and no abuse, but when it comes to what’s actually punishable the important thing is whether or not the animal involved is okay. If you and your dog are fucking but there’s no real harm occurring, then it’s not actually a crime. Of course, in a perfect world there would also be stipulation around the animal’s motivation and mentality, we wouldn’t want a case where an animal wasn’t given an option even if they weren’t being injured, but this reading of the law honestly feels like a step in the right direction, and it’s a shame the author so clearly doesn’t like it.
ART 387 CP: Animals mistreatment
1. Who, without a legitimate motive, inflicts pain, suffering or any other mistreatment on a companion animal will be punished by prison up to one year or a fine up to 120 days.
2. If the facts provided for in the previous number result in the animal’s death, the loss of a vital organ or member or the serious and permanent impairment of it’s ability to move, the agent will be punished with prison up to 2 years or fine up to 240 days.
Bolliger and Goetschel, in 2005, argued that any sexual contact with animals should be prohibited, as with children and people with disabilities. Animals, similar to these individuals, cannot assert their legal position on their own and it should be irrelevant whether or not they get injured during sexual activity or whether they participated voluntarily. The authors affirm that “To put animals into this category with people, in respect of their being worthy of protection from sexual exploitation, is only a consistent development both ethically and legally, and does not constitute an improper humanization of animals.” Additionally, they believe that all actions related to zoophilic pornography should be prohibited, such as production, distribution and even acquisition.
This is a weird argument to make, because there are so many important considerations for each point. Saying blanketedly that “any sexual contact with children should be prohibited” leaves room for a lot of questions. What about with other children? What constitutes a child for this definition? And it gets even weirder when it comes to people with disabilities. What constitutes a disability severe enough to warrant it immoral for any person to engage with them sexually? I would argue that even the most disabled people should be able to get off if they so have the desire and ability to, and they have a willing partner. And to lump animals in with those other two shows a clear misunderstanding of the things they’re trying to group together.
III – OBJECTIVES
The principal aims of our study are:
• To survey veterinarians regarding their perceptions of and experiences with cases of suspected or confirmed animal sexual abuse;
• To establish the incidence and frequency of cases of sexual abuses detected by veterinarians in Portugal and Spain;
• Investigate the veterinarians’ views on this subject and explore their attitude towards cases of animal abuse;
• Determine in which regions of Portugal and Spain zoophilic content is being searched for online;
• Motivate other investigators to focus on this subject;
• To show the urgent need to change legislation to protect the victims of these abuses.
Here the author lays out their position clearly. They say there is an “urgent need to change legislation to protect the victims.” Which would be fantastic if they were actually targeting abusers. Instead, they’re going after anyone who has sexual relations with animals, regardless of whether it’s abusive or not. They claim that that’s an urgent issue, but haven’t gone through any real effort to show whether it is or not. They’re making huge leaps to assume harm, without doing any of the leg work. This clearly shows that this paper is less about whether or not zoosexuality is harmful, and more so is about trying to virtue signal on something you perceive to be an issue because that’s what society told you. Thus far, it would actually be an enormous stretch to call this work a “scientific paper” like it’s billed as: as we stated at the top, it reads a lot more like a poorly researched argumentative essay, or an op-ed in a newspaper. This basically sums up, in my opinion anyway, why this paper shouldn’t really be used as an argument to show that zoosexuality is bad. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it shouldn’t be used for anything. But at the very least, this paper has admitted that its goal is to spread a narrative, irregardless of what the true nature of zoosexuality might be.
From this point on, the paper gets into this quiz that they sent to a number of different vets around Spain and Portugal, as well as talking a little bit about the frequency of people consuming zoo content. If you want to take a quick break, here’s a good point to do it, or if you’ve had enough feel free to stop here. I’ll spoil it a little for you and tell you that you’ve gotten the main point I’m trying to make with this paper response already. That said, if you’re someone that likes stats, or just wants to see more about how “scientific research” can be used as a manipulation tool, you’ll probably find the next part pretty interesting. So yeah. Break’s over, let’s dive into the data!
IV- METHODS AND MATERIAL
To accomplish our goals we used two different approaches. Firstly, an online survey was made and directed to Portuguese and Spanish veterinarians. Secondly, an online tool was used to analyze the pornography-seeking behavior in those two countries.
1. Survey directed to veterinarians
Survey description – An anonymous online survey was created for this study. We used this method following examples from previous similar studies and the developed, type of questions and methodology according to what has been suggested in the literature. It was designed to be completed within five minutes. A draft survey was tested informally by six of the author’s colleagues to detect unclear or ambiguous questions. All the necessary revisions and updates were made and the final survey was shared online. The survey was available from June 15 until July 15. The first page had a brief paragraph describing the purpose of the project and encouraging the veterinarian’s participation. This paragraph deliberately did not mention animal sexual abuse as the area of research, but only made a general statement about our interest in animal mistreatment. Respondents were also advised that the survey was anonymous and to be used for academic purposes only. The final survey consisted of a first set of survey questions ascertaining the demographic characteristics of the respondents, plus 10 questions about the subject. A total of 140 surveys were answered but only 111 were analyzed. Surveys which had the same answers for all questions were excluded to avoid any error, in case someone accidentally participated multiple times.
So, right off the bat let’s look at this vet study. It was designed to be short and sweet, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but also it’s important to note that it’s not an in depth look. Also, the fact that they didn’t mention that the survey was about sexual abuse is really important, as you’ll see once we get into the details.
Statistical analyses - All answers were organized in Excel sheets (Excel for Mac 2011®). The analysis of results was done with the help of version 23.0 of the software SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) and the graphs/tables created with Excel. The answers to some questions conditioned the respondent in their answer for other questions, which is why certain results express frequencies of answers relating to fewer than the total of 111 respondents. The percentage of valid answers is greater than 98% for all questions.
The associations between the variables were studied by the chi-square test. In cases where more than 20% of the columns had < 5 as expected, we used Fisher’s test. Values of p < 0.05 were considered statistically significant. We considered p < 0.01 very significant and p < 0.001 highly significant.
That’s all boring stats stuff, and it’s all pretty standard. Not to say that boring and standard stuff would be in any way problematic to include if this were a real scientific paper. But, considering that ship has already sailed, there’s nothing especially salient for us to note here.
- Pornography-seeking behaviour analysed with Google Trends
To analyse animal pornography-seeking behaviour in Portugal and Spain, we started by using the Internet service WordTracker to determine which keywords individuals tend to use to search for animal pornography. Keywords are the words individuals enter into various search engines in order to find something online. For example, a person might type the word “porn” or “sex” into the Google search engine when attempting to find pornography. By compiling data from millions of searches each week, WordTracker is able to identify the top keywords individuals tend to use to find pornography. Then we used Google Trends to determine the popularity of these pornography keywords. Google Trends is a free and publically accessible online portal that analyses billions of daily Google searches, generating data on geographical and temporal patterns according to specified keywords.
Participants for this study were any individuals residing in Portugal and Spain who entered select keywords into the Google search engine between 15th July 2012 and 15th July 2017.
There is one important thing to note here. This method of sampling has a pretty huge flaw. Google Trends can for sure be used to measure the popularity of a topic generally, but when it comes to things that are pornographic in nature, especially if they’re questionably legal, a lot of people aren’t using Google to find that content. Most people looking for zoo porn aren’t googling “Dog porn sex” every evening that they have some alone time. Frequently, zoos will have trusted sources that they go to for their content directly, and many newer zoos will opt to ask more established community members what the best sources are for fear of repercussions if they just Google it. So, when looking at this data, remember that it’s very possible that it only represents a fraction of the amount of people actively consuming the content in question.
V – RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
1. Survey directed to veterinarians
A total of 111 questionnaires were analysed. 71 respondents were Spanish and 40 Portuguese. Analysing the entire sample (n=111), most respondents were female (n=87) 78.4% whereas 24 (21.6%) were male. Regarding the age of the participants, 24 (21.6%) were between 20 and 29 years old, 45 (40.5%) between 30 and 39 years old, 39 (35.1%) between 31 and 39 years old, followed by 13 (11.75%) aged between 50 and 64 years old.
The years of veterinary school graduation were reported as 2011 to 2016 (31 [27.9%]), 2001 to 2010 (44 [39.6%]), 1991 to 2000 (23 [20.7%]), 1981 to 1990 (11 [9.9%]) and 1971 to 1980 (2 [1.8%]).
The largest proportion of practicing veterinarians reported working in small animal practice 92.8% (n=103) followed by mixed-animal practice 4.6% (n=4), large animals practice 2.7% (n=3) and others, which included one veterinarian working in the meat industry, a pathologist and a municipal veterinary. Furthermore, the majority of veterinarians spent more than 50% of their time treating small animals (11 [9.9%]).
When respondents were asked whether they had encountered any cases of animal abuse (suspected or confirmed), 71 (63.9%) reported that they had and 40 (36%) reported that they had not. Taking a closer look into the data regarding each version of the survey individually, 24 (60%) Portuguese veterinarians reported that they had encountered cases of animal mistreatment and 16 (40%) had not. Regarding the Spanish version of the survey, results were similar; 47 (66%) had faced or at least suspected cases of animal abuse and 24 (34%) had not. These findings are remarkably similar to those found by Williams and collaborators in New Zealand, where 63% of veterinarians were reported to have seen cases of deliberate animal abuse. These figures surpassed the ones found by Munro and Thrusfield (2001) in the UK, where 48.3% of the veterinarians had seen cases of mistreatment and in the results from the study made in Ireland by McGuinness, Allen and Jones in 2005, where 44.3% of respondents reported seeing cases of animal abuse. By contrast, a much higher percentage of veterinarians affirmed encountering cases of abuse in the USA (87%).
Here’s where that whole distinction about “animal abuse” vs “animal mistreatment” comes into play. Because here they use the terms relatively interchangeably, but throughout the rest of the paper, “animal abuse” had referred specifically to sexual abuse. So, when talking about the vets who reported that they’ve encountered “animal abuse,” do they mean sexual abuse, or just mistreatment as the initial questionnaire sent out seems to imply? This is unnecessarily confusing.
More than half of the veterinarians of each country (Portugal and Spain) had faced a case that made them suspect or be certain of a case of mistreatment. Despite this, many cases may have gone unnoticed since it is sometimes difficult for the veterinarian to admit that a client would present a case of abuse to the clinic. Besides that, most veterinarians make their diagnosis based on the assumption that the client is not lying during the anamnesis (collection of an animal’s history). Moreover, it is extremely difficult to be sure that a mistreatment occurred. If there are no evident physical findings, the veterinarian needs to be aware of different things, such as if there is discrepancy between the history provided and the clinical findings or if explanations are vague and inconsistent.
When asked if they had ever reported a case of animal mistreatment, only 17 (15.3%) participants said they had while 94 (84.7%) had not. Analyzing participants from each country individually, in Spain only 12 (16.9%) participants had reported at least one case of animal mistreatment while only 5 (12.5%) of the Portuguese veterinarians did. Relating these results with how many had seen or suspected cases of mistreatment, we concluded that from the 47 Spanish veterinarians who encountered cases of animal abuse, only 12 (25.5%) had reported it. In the Portuguese survey, from the 24 participants who encountered confirmed or suspected of abuse cases, only 5 (20.8%) reported them.
There are three possibilities that I can think of that would lead to this level of sloppiness. First, the person conducting the study is just using these terms to mean the same thing, even if in the quiz they sent to all the vets that’s not actually what they said. Whether they believed it was implied or assume all mistreatment is sexual in nature, that could explain why they’re suddenly the same thing. Another less generous possibility is that they’re specifically presenting the data in the way that gives them the largest sample size, as well as looks the best for their point of view. Finally, I will say there’s the potential that this is some kind of translation error, but I don’t find that to be likely with a paper like this: yes, this paper does feature several grammatical errors, but even so the key terminology should still be given the utmost care, and again, they have frankly already shown their hand time after time when it comes to the narrative they wish to present.
According to McGuinness and collaborators, “Many professionals are reluctant to get involved due to fear of litigation, fear that the client will be driven away, fear of erosion of the client base of the practice, fear that reporting will compromise the safety of the victim, lack of knowledge of available resources, a perception that no action will be taken, fear of physical retaliation by the perpetrator, a lack of widely- accepted standards of identification and inexperience in dealing with misleading histories”. In the study made by Kogan and collaborators, veterinarians reported other motives for not reporting a suspected case of abuse: thinking it is better to educate the client than report the abuse, thinking it was accidental and not intentional, being unsure of the process for reporting, telling their superior or practice manager for them to decide what to do, fearing that the animal would suffer as a result of reporting, fearing retaliation by the abuser, fearing that they would damage their relationship with the client, fearing that they would harm the clinic’s reputation, fearing that their own reputation would be harmed, lacking time or meaning to report it but not getting around to it. Moreover, professional secrecy is one of the major obstacles to a possible report in Portugal and Spain.
This makes it even more confusing, because now it sounds like they’re not referring to sexual abuse at all. How do you “accidentally” sexually abuse an animal? If someone is sexually abusive, how is a vet going to “educate” them? I know this isn’t from their quiz, but what is the purpose of adding this to the paper? It’s simple. They want to equate all forms of abuse with sexual abuse, and therefore also equate abuse with non-abusive zoos who have consensual sex with their partner.
I’ve cut out a section of the paper here that is all about the general metrics of vets in the two countries, and it’s not really relevant to our purposes, so I’m going to skip over that to the next important thing. This is long enough already. On to the next point.
Of the 111 respondents, 9 (8.1%) had encountered (suspected or confirmed) at least one case of animal sexual abuse. There was a slight difference between frequencies of Portuguese and Spanish veterinarians who saw those cases: four veterinarians in Spain corresponding to a total of 5.6% of Spanish participants and five Portuguese veterinarians, corresponding to a total of 12.5% of the Portuguese participants. When asked how many cases of sexual abuse they had encountered, all the participants answered “one case” with the exception of one veterinarian who reported they had seen more than five cases. Our results were similar to the ones found by Murno and Thrusfield, in 2001, and Williams and collaborators, in 2008, both with a prevalence of 6% of cases of suspected sexual abuse.
This really makes me wish that we could have unbiased scientific research on this topic. If of the 111 veterinarians, only 9 reported ever seeing abuse, and of those 9 each reporting seeing it once, that’s pretty infrequent. It makes me wonder how many of those vets are working with zoos who have a healthy sexual relationship with their animals, in which the vet never would have even assumed that something was wrong. Because just based off the general statistics for the number of zoos out there, I’d assume the number of animals these vets ever examined who had a human for a sexual partner was much higher than 9.
TW for the next section, it’s a little graphic.
Of the respondents who reported having seen or at least suspected cases of animal sexual abuse, the reasons given for their suspicions were: “The owner told me because she knew the story firsthand”; “Anal and rectal lesions in a female dog”; “The owner consulted us believing her husband raped the dog”; “Foreign object in the sexual organ of a female dog”; “The behaviour of the animal relative to their guardian and the sexual history of the same”; “Profuse rectal and vulvar hemorrhage, edema and laceration of the rectal and vaginal area. The guardian said the female dog had been raped by a fellow dog …but it seems impossible to me once the female was sterilized.”; “Suspicious lesions in the genital area.”; “Injuries incompatible with the story of the moment”; “Vaginal tears”.
The reasons for suspecting sexual abuse are varied. The ones found in our study are in accordance with the ones found in Munro’s study. In Munro’s study, the four main reasons for suspecting animal sexual abuse were: the type of injury; the behaviour of the owner; statements from witnesses; and admission by the perpetrator.
Besides the fact this subject is rarely mentioned in veterinary textbooks, some veterinarians are aware of this kind of abuse and consider sexual abuse as a differential diagnosis of vaginal and anal injuries. However, our results show that most of the time clinicians will only suspect that sexual contact occurred if the animal presents suspicious injuries at the examination, sustaining the view of Beetz.
While obviously it’s awful whenever an animal gets injured, it’s important to note that even of those 9 reports, some of them aren’t even confirmed cases. My point isn’t that sexual abuse isn’t prevalent, I’m not sure what the stats are on that. Just that if you’re trying to increase legislation against zoos because of how rampant animal sexual abuse is, you’re not making a great case for yourself.
We gave a list of options for veterinarians to select which they considered to be sexual abuse. Only one participant did not answer this question, so of the 110 participants who answered 100% considered the options “vaginally penetrate the animal” and “anally penetrate the animal” as sexual abuse. 94.5% of the veterinarians considered “practice oral sex on the animal” a kind of sexual abuse. Regarding the acts of being “anally penetrated by the animal” and being “vaginally penetrated by the animal” 92.7% of the participants considered it sexual abuse. Receiving oral sex from the animal was considered an abuse by 89.1% of the veterinarians and the lowest percentage corresponds to “masturbating the animal”, which 80.9% of the participants considered sexual abuse.
The fact that some veterinary surgeons did not consider acts related to masturbation and oral-genital contact as an abuse may be justified with the opinion of Stettner (1990) who believes those kinds of acts, as well as frottage, are not an issue for animal protection. On the other hand, intercourse can be an abuse, depending on the size of the animal and the degree of force used.
A possible explanation for the lower percentage of veterinarians considering masturbation as a sexual abuse (80.9%) may be related to the fact that masturbation is often used for medical-assisted reproduction.
I think there’s something interesting sociologically to take away from these results. When it comes to sexual assault, I think it’s clear to most people that if you decide to shove your fingers inside someone who doesn’t want it, or shove your dick into someone who doesn’t want it, both of those things are still rape. So when only 80.9% of respondents say that masturbating an animal isn’t sexual abuse, what that says to me is that they aren’t looking at this from a place of logic and reason so much as they are from a moral point. Like the author calls out themselves, the likely answer is because animal masturbation is frequently used in farming, and as we all know it’s not rape if it makes a profit.
A closer look at the previous studies reveals that masturbation is one of the most frequent behaviours reported by zoophiles. Performing oral stimulation on the animal is also a frequent practice made by zoophiles. Besides the fact that there are probably no physical injuries on the animal when those acts are performed, we strongly believe that they are a type of sexual abuse, as the majority of the participants in our study do. Indeed, as stated by many authors, similarly to sexual contact with children, it is impossible to obtain consent from the animal.
I want to quickly take a second to talk about citation. This paper is fully cited, but I’ve taken out all the references because this is long enough without it, and also I don’t think it’s really relevant to the point that I’m making. That said, I do want to mention it here. They list three citations on this point where they’re making the claim that “many authors” agree that it’s impossible to get consent from an animal. One is a previously mentioned study linking children who commit crimes to animal abuse. One is a criminology paper. The last is another criminology paper. None of these are about animal psychology, or biology. None of these factor in the animal at all. What these sources are saying is that it’s illegal to have sex with an animal, and it’s wrong and animals can’t consent. However, with the power of retrospection, it’s easy to see that there are plenty of things that used to be illegal that are now okay. Pretending that precedent is all that matters when it comes to defining this issue is so incredibly moronic. It’s saying that the rationale for never changing is because it’s always been that way. That leaves no room for things to get better.
In fact, zoophilia based on mutual consent can only ever be speculation because it is impossible for the animal to speak for themself. Furthermore, we believe that animals could be sexually imprinted to like the sexual contact with a human. Zoophiles believe their intimate relationship with animals are base on respect and trust and without violence, but it is a fact that even if no physical harm is inflicted on animals they are still used to sexually satisfy humans, functioning as mere sexual objects.
These are two diametrically opposed ideas. You can’t have a relationship based on respect and trust and also treat someone as a sexual object. (Roleplays are a whole other thing). Clearly this author doesn’t actually understand zoosexuals at all, and presumably made no effort to actually talk to any before writing this. If zoos believe that their relationships are built on trust and respect, then clearly they’re providing their partners with autonomy and agency. This analysis just doesn’t make sense.
However, almost all veterinarians in our study seem to agree about the consent question. When asked if they would consider one scenario an abuse even if the animal had showed no resistance to the act, 98.2% answered they would. Moreover, the majority of veterinary participants agree that physical injuries do not have to exist for sexual contact to be considered sexual abuse.
Now this is what you call a leading question. There’s a very big difference between asking “Is it abuse if they show no resistance” vs “is it abuse if they’re willingly participating” vs “is it abuse if they’re eager and willing.” All of those questions are in the ballpark of meaning the same thing, but you’d probably get different answers from the same person asking each one. That’s because of the tone of the question. Even though the denotation is in the same semantic region, the connotation of “no resistance” implies that it’s something bad happening that the animal is putting up with. Once again, it’s this study using incredibly biased language in order to get the results that they’re looking for. And for the record, I would agree that injuries don’t have to exist for sex to be abusive.
When asked “Do you consider that sexual abuse can cause psychological damages in the animal?” 93.7% of participants answered they do. Furthermore, when testing the relation between the variable nationality and the answers to this question, we verified that it was statistically significant (p=0.048 in Fisher’s exact test). All Portuguese veterinarians considered that psychological damages could occur as a consequence of a sexual abuse towards an animal, while some Spanish veterinarians (9.9%) considered it couldn’t.
As far as we know, there is no reference in literature to sustain the view that animals may suffer psychological damages from sexual abuse. However, it has been proved that animals may suffer psychological damages due to traumatic episodes.
Furthermore, the relation between the answers to the question above and considering masturbation a kind of sexual abuse was statistically significant (p=0.047 in Fisher’s exact test). In fact, 60% of the veterinarians who believe that physical damages must occur to be considered a sexual abuse also considered that masturbation is not a sexual abuse.
After this, the paper has a section talking about the general porn search trends in specific regions of Spain and Portugal that I don’t think is worth talking about. Which brings us to the conclusion! Here they make a lot of mission statements, so there’s going to be a lot of back and forth between my commentary and their points.
VI- FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
Animal sexual abuse is an alarmingly big problem in our society.
I agree with this, but they literally didn’t prove it at all in this study. They interviewed 111 veterinarians, and found evidence of maybe 13 cases but not for sure.
The majority of cases have not been discovered and never will if most of the practices do not inflict injuries on the animal victims. In our opinion, all kinds of abuse should be considered a crime.
I don’t know who they think doesn’t agree that all kinds of abuse should be considered criminal. That said, determining what is and isn’t abuse is very important.
Not only the physical injuries should be taken into account. As the majority of the veterinarians in our study agree, there is no need for physical injuries to exist to consider a sexual act with an animal as sexual abuse. Additionally, although there is no scientific evidence that psychological damages exist in these cases, the majority of veterinarians believe they may exist.
What the vets in the study actually said, according to the author’s own words, is that “sexual abuse can cause psychological damages.” Which is very true. But wording it as they have here implies a much stronger position.
Furthermore, it is impossible to prove that the animal has given their consent in such acts even if no resistance is shown.
Even if there is no clear evidence of a link between animal sexual abuse and other forms of abuse, some studies have pointed towards that connection. That said, veterinarians are in the front-line detecting cases of abuse, and by reporting them they are not only saving that victim but also other possible victims, human and non-human.
To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the incidence of cases of animal sexual abuse encountered by veterinarians in Portugal and Spain. The results of our survey leave no doubt that veterinarians in both countries encounter these cases.
The consensus view of veterinarians in our study seems to be that it should be mandatory to report these cases, and we strongly agree with their view if the there is immunity from civil and criminal liability for veterinarians that report such cases. Likewise, we believe it is crucial to create guidelines in both Portugal and Spain for practicing veterinarians, outlining how they should react when faced with cases of abuse, including sexual abuse. Several countries have developed these sorts of guidelines to help veterinarians and Portugal and Spain would benefit in following those examples.
Furthermore, Internet searches reveal that people are looking for content related to this subject and our approach through Google trends reveals that there are some regions in these two countries where there is significantly more interest for this cyber content. However, a limitation in our study is that Google Trends does not provide the exact number of times a term was searched for in a given time period. Such information would be useful in order to better understand exactly how many pornography searches occurred.
Further investigation needs to be done on sexual contact with animals. This is a subject where several areas need to be involved, such as veterinary medicine, anthrozoology, psychiatry and law.
I know I’ve pointed it out a hundred times now, but it’s important. The fact that the author uses the word “investigation” here implies criminality, instead of using “research” to imply a scientific approach. That said, I agree that I would also love to see more research on the subject. In fact, there are interesting questions to be asked from all four of the practices listed.
It seems that this subject is starting to become less taboo as more publications are available and the media is starting to cover more cases. The question of whether zoophilia is or is not a disease has caused much debate in psychiatry over the years, and some studies have tried to understand the reasons behind this sexual preference. However, the literature shows no consensus on the damages caused in the animal and more research focused on the victim (the animal) needs to be done.
Understanding sexual contact with animals is not by any means easy, but a first step is acknowledging that sexual abuse towards animals does not occur as infrequently as many people would like to believe. The literature shows that people have always engaged in sexual activities with animals and they still do so today.
We hope this study encourages many more on this subject, especially in the veterinary field, as we believe the evidence will show the abuse of animals to be much more widespread than currently accepted. Our study leaves no question about the existence of sexual abuse towards animals in Portugal and Spain besides the important limitation of the low response rate. A repeat study of a random sample of all veterinary practitioners in Portugal and Spain would increase the external validity of results and, as such, provide data more representative of the veterinary population.
All things considered, it seems reasonable to assume that zoophilia is a legitimate problem in Portugal and Spain and there is an urgency to adapt the legislation in order to defend the victims of this kind of abuse, who cannot speak for themselves.
Alright, we’re at the end, so let’s talk about what we learned. The most important thing to take away from this is the idea of bias. This paper isn’t about whether zoosexuality or sex with animals in general is good or bad. To the author, that point is already a given. Instead, this takes that assumption and with it attempts to show that zoosexuality is a big problem that needs to be addressed. But here’s the issue. Science is like a card tower, always growing bigger and bigger. But before trying to grow too big, you need to make sure that you have a solid basis in place, otherwise everything you’ve built is going to collapse.
Pretty much all of the cited research from this paper is about criminology. Their metrics for how many zoos there are come from prison samples. Their examples of sex with animals come from abuse cases. All of their data is coming from one specific place, and it’s the worst of the worst as far as animal attracted people go. The fact that there’s going to be a negative slant on that data should be obvious to anyone who understands statistics at even a middle school level.
What we here at Zooey Magazine advocate for is research on actual zoos and their actual partners. Studies that look at whether consensual sex between a human and an animal is damaging. This isn’t that. All this is is an opinion based off of a specific subset of data.
Article written by Tarro (January 2022)
Questions, comments or concerns? Check out the discussion thread over on ZooCommunity, or join our Discord!