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Bestiality Now Against the Law in Ohio

Officials prepare to move 361 dogs and cats from a property near Medway, Ohio, on Feb. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/The Springfield News-Sun, Marshall Gorby)

It’s now against the law to have sex with animals in Ohio. The state’s first anti-bestiality law took effect March 21.

Ohio really needs this law? Who would do such a thing, have sex with animals?

Criminologist Jenny Edwards said more and more people are doing it. Arrests have more than doubled in the past 30 years.

She blames the internet and ultra-strong firewalls that allow people who share the perversion to meet secretly.

“It’s been great for deviants,” Edwards said.

“It’s a crime that defies explanation to the rational person,” Mark Kumpf, director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, told the Dayton Daily News. “We’re dealing with a different species.”

Fairfax, Va., Police Detective Jeremy Hoffman found the same people who commit sex crimes against children are often drawn to animals, too.

“It was people from everyday walks of life,” Hoffman said. “There was no stereotype that you could pin to any of them.”

Salvador Rendon was accused of having sex with animals. AP reported he was arraigned in Warren, Ohio, last year on charges that he had intercourse with two dogs — a male and a female boxer that belonged to his daughter — at least 10 times over the previous six years.

Rendon was convicted. But since bestiality was not a crime in Ohio at the time, all he could be charged with was misdemeanor animal cruelty.

After spending 30 days in jail, Rendon is on five years’ probation.

The Warren City Council reacted by passing Ohio’s first municipal ban on bestiality. The legislature followed suit with a statewide law.

It turned out the third time was the charm. Ohio lawmakers had been faced with an anti-bestiality proposal twice before, but both efforts failed.

Sen. Jim Hughes (R) sponsored the legislation this time, just as he did in 2011 and 2015.

“I think this is something that is sickening and perverse and we don’t want Ohio to be the place you can come and have sex with an animal,” Hughes said.

Still, it wasn’t easy to get it done in 2016. The proposed law was tacked on to Senate Bill 331, which was intended to stop local municipalities from regulating pet stores or raising the minimum wage.

Paradoxically, it was animal-rights activists who almost killed the anti-bestiality proposal because of the legislation that it was rolled into. They said the so-called “Petland Bill” would allow chain stores, like Petland, to purchase puppies from unregulated, unlicensed breeders.

But the Columbus Dispatch reported it became tougher for lawmakers who were worried about animal rights to vote against SB 331 because of the anti-bestiality provision.

However, others are opposed to SB 331 because of the language it included to block local governments from raising the minimum wage in their jurisdictions. That was seen as taking direct aim at a May ballot issue in Cleveland that will ask voters if the city’s minimum wage should be raised in stages to $15 an hour.

Yet another amendment that AT&T wanted so that it could “expedite the installation and operation of micro-wireless facilities” angered local municipalities.

But compromise followed compromise, and SB 331 became law. Now, Ohio is off the list of states — Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming, along with the District of Columbia — where humans having sex with animals is not prohibited by law.

“We were able to explain that this is not just an animal issue,” Corey Roscoe, the Humane Society’s Ohio state director, told the AP. “This did have ramifications for human violence. Sexually deviant acts are a red flag to other acts of sexual violence.”

Ohio’s new bestiality ban prohibits a person from engaging in sexual conduct with an animal and related acts, and makes bestiality a second-degree misdemeanor. Those convicted of bestiality could be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals expressed its displeasure with the “Petland Bill” in a blog post to its members.

“This new law will allow Ohio’s pet stores to source puppies from some of the worst mills in the country as well as block the state’s towns and cities from banning the retail sale of these dogs,” the ASPCA wrote.

However, the ASPCA also expressed its pleasure with Ohio’s new anti-bestiality law and another provision, HB 215, that makes cockfighting a felony.

Cleveland and more than 80 other Ohio municipalities have filed suit against SB 331 because of the minimum wage provision. But the anti-bestiality provision remains in effect, for the time being.

Mark Kumpf said, “It’s important that we have this as one of the tools in the box to deal with [these] folks.”