Another fatality

It was revealed a few months back that a woman in Ireland has apparently died as a result of a massive allergic reaction caused by sexual activity with a dog.

Not too many details are known or even needed, but this is obviously a very unusual death. The woman apparently met up with the dog’s owner through the internet. Shortly after having some manner of sexual contact with the dog, she was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead soon afterward. It is assumed that the woman died of anaphylactic shock.

The idea that sexual contact with an animal might cause a life-threatening reaction like this is nothing new. An animal could be carrying a sexually-transimissible disease that is mostly harmless to the animal but potentially dangerous to it’s owner. There is also the question of allergic reactions to certain bodily fluids, and that problem tends to go both ways. The animal’s owner could cause the animal to have a dangerous allergic reaction, or the animal could cause it’s owner to have a dangerous allergic reaction. It’s quite clear that this case is a very extreme occurrence of the latter.

What’s interesting is that the event occurred in 2008, but has only hit the media relatively recently. What’s also interesting is that there is no indication that the man who provided her with the dog has been identified or even charged.

The woman, who is not identified, leaves behind four children. The dog was held in quarantine during the investigation; it’s eventual fate is unknown. Rehabilitating animals that have been in abusive situations such as these is extremely difficult. Given that the dog was apparently trained to have sex with people, it’s entirely possible that it was put down at the close of the case.

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History: The Enumclaw Ring

The Enumclaw/”Mr. Hands” case marked several “firsts” in a bestiality case. It was the first case of it’s kind where a fatality had directly resulted from a sex act with an animal. It was the first in a long time to directly result in swift, bipartisan political change. It was also the public’s first direct picture of a bestiality “farm”, or “ring”.

The basic gist of what happened: On July 2, 2005, former Boeing engineer Kenneth Pinyan was dropped off at the Community Hospital in Enumclaw, WA. He was found to be suffering from a perforated colon and died in the emergency room. Investigators interviewed friends, family, and the man who had dropped him off at the hospital and came to the conclusion that Pinyan had received his life-ending injury by having sex with a horse. It was determined that he was staying at a farm owned and used by several zoophiles whom he had met over the internet, and that he had sneaked onto a neighboring farm to have sex with a horse there that had caught his fancy.

Pinyan was accompanied onto the neighboring property by two other men – one whose name was never reported(as he was never charged), and one James Michael Tait. Tait not only had a go at the horse himself, but had videotaped the whole encounter. Since the death was accidental, and since Washington had no law against bestiality at that time, Tait was only charged with trespassing. No other charges were filed. There were other people involved as well; the farm was well-known among zoophiles as a sex tourism destination and had received a number of visitors from across the country.

News reports of the time are not clear how involved Tait was in the operations of this farm; one says he was the owner, another says he lived in a trailer on a nearby vacant lot, and still another says that he “helped run” the farm.

We will never know how many others traveled to that farm. The news reports speak of a huge number of tapes, CDs and other media containing bestiality pornography that may have been produced there; mountains of evidence that all had to be returned. The investigation was completely halted once police determined that the legal framework to prosecute what should have been a massive animal abuse case was nonexistent thanks to Washington’s inadequate animal cruelty laws. Bestiality was completely legal in Washington, and the police had determined that there were no detectable physical injuries to the animals involved.

Not all was lost. Thanks to the public outcry that resulted from the case, Washington’s legislature passed a law against bestiality the following year.

The aftermath brought as much weirdness out of the woodwork as it did anger and concern. Some regarded the incident as tragedy; others treated it as farce. After the news of the weird columns had their say, and after the documentary hit, it has firmly dug itself into the back of the American public consciousness, tucked neatly next to some of the more memorable Darwin Awards. Most people didn’t think of this incident as a tragedy or a chilling glimpse of a cruel and disturbing underworld; they thought of it as a punchline.

In the middle of all the ridicule and disgust, the big picture quickly vanished. The implications of the case have largely been ignored, mostly because they’re quite disturbing. For starters, there have to be a dozen rings similar to the one that operated in Enumclaw, spread all over the United States. Occasionally one gets busted, and occasionally there are vague whisperings about one or two, but the fact of the matter is is that most of these groups operate in total secrecy. To our knowledge, nobody – neither animal rights/welfare organizations, nor law enforcement – has had much success sniffing them out.

Even some of the actors in that original drama are still around – James Tait put on an encore performance in Tennessee, and made a special guest appearance in the relatively recent second Spink arrest.

Still, the progress made in the wake of this incident is not to be understated. The media coverage of the incident helped shine a light, however briefly, into a dark crevasse that nobody had previously wanted anything to do with. For many years, animal welfare organizations were slowly becoming aware just how widespread the sexual abuse of animals really was. After the Enumclaw case, people who had never given the issue much thought came to that same realization. They slowly began to understand that bestiality wasn’t merely a sick joke but a real problem, one that would eventually have to be taken seriously. Washington now has the strongest anti-bestiality laws in the nation, and it’s other animal cruelty statutes continue to improve at an encouraging pace.

We can only hope that the rest of the country will someday follow Washington’s example.

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The Bower case

A shocking bestiality case has rocked Ohio recently. A man by the name of Peter Bower was arrested after he was found to have had an extensive history of animal molestation. The arrest happened a few weeks after he had adopted a dog from a Richland County animal shelter. The dog was examined afterwards and found to have vaginal bruising consistent with sexual assault.

Bower faces two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. His pre-trial hearing is set for July 15, and if convicted, faces a maximum of 9 months in jail and $1750 in fines. Ohio has no specific laws against bestiality, but this case has made enough waves to prompt Ohio House Rep. Jay Goyal to introduce a bill making bestiality a felony.

So how did this all come about? Bower was only busted because he hid his zoophilia in plain sight. It is said that he was initially discovered posting on a popular “furry” site about a couple of dogs he owned that had passed away a little over a year ago. The posts raised some suspicion, and further investigation revealed that he was also posting about the same dogs under the same alias over on the largest English-language bestiality site – the infamous BeastForum.

On BeastForum, Bower not only posted around thirty pictures of him assaulting his dogs but revealed how they had died. The two dogs were German Shepherds – one male, one female. (They were also brother and sister.) The female was put down when she had developed pyometra, an often fatal infection of the uterus that can sometimes occur in dogs that are left unspayed, bred too often, or (as in this rare case) sexually abused. The male was put down as well, for reasons that are more vague (prostate issues are mentioned as a possible reason).

Upon discovery of this material, Peter was quietly reported to a local animal shelter; they then notified the Sheriff’s department. Over the next few months, they monitored his activities. After he had adopted another dog from a county-run animal shelter and posted about it on the internet, the authorities decided that they finally had enough information to act.

When Bower was arrested, not only was his dog rescued, but his computers and several other items were seized as well. A wealth of information was found on his hard drives, and the press has played up the presence of a blow-up sheep doll and the book “Dearest Pet“, a sympathetic study of zoophilia throughout history.

The news reports also mention that Bower may have been able to gain access to at least one horse. One report also mentions an accomplice that may have helped him photograph his acts.

The repercussions of this incident are tremendous. Hopefully more information will come to light and some of the confusion cleared up once the trial gets underway.

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Doug Spink – An Introduction

So where do we even begin?

Douglas Spink is easily the most infamous zoophilia advocate in recent memory. Or at least, he’d like to think so. Over the last 10 years, he’s made international news, been in and out of prison, and has cost taxpayers and animal shelters untold thousands of dollars. The Spink saga is so tremendous it could easily span an entire book. We’re not going to try to cover even a tenth of it here, or go into too many specifics, but rather give something of an overview.

The animal abuse dates back to the 1990s. He started with dogs and moved “up” to horses a few years afterward. There is ample and easily obtainable photographic evidence of this abuse, though he stopped spreading images publically after his first arrest.

Spink’s brushes with the law represent an interesting intersection between law enforcement at it’s most tragically wasteful (the “war on drugs”) and law enforcement at it’s most impotent (animal cruelty).

Spink was part of a generation of dot-com era temporary millionaires, worth a fortune at the end of the 1990s and millions in debt by the beginning of the 2000s. Not long afterward, he took up drug trafficking. (It is assumed that he did this in order to continue to swim in the wealth that afforded him access to the expensive animals he craved, but there may have been other reasons.) He was arrested in 2005 with millions of dollars worth of cocaine, and got a lenient sentence by fully cooperating with the investigation into the rest of the smuggling operation.

He was out on parole by 2008, and around this time last year got into trouble again when an animal sex tourism operation he ran was discovered. This violated his parole, and he is currently serving the remaining three years of his sentence.

There have been various news articles about this incident that describe it much better. The animal shelter Hope For Horses also has an excellent series of blog posts that go into detail about what went down and what was revealed at Spink’s detention hearing.

Spink gets out in November of next year. In theory, he will be heavily monitored and face severe restrictions on what he can and can’t do for a good two years after he gets out. But since he has never actually formally faced any animal cruelty charges, he will likely not be barred from owning animals. This should be the end of the story, but many fear that he will simply resume his previous behavior when he gets out.

Spink is a big part of why we’re here. Expect more on him and other advocates and incidents in the coming months.

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One down, how many more to go again?

After two false starts, Florida has finally managed to criminalize bestiality. Yes, two false starts. This biblically-endorsed moral slam dunk was bumped off twice, first by a Republican senator who thought the idea was ridiculous, then by a Democratic lawmaker who thought it was too icky to discuss.

Numerous cases are mentioned as the inspiration for this law, from the blind man who assaulted his guide dog to a goat that was found dead with evidence of prior sexual abuse over in St. Petersburg. In every case, the lack of an adequate legal framework for prosecuting the crime made bringing the perpetrator to justice difficult or impossible.

Florida is one of many states that lost their anti-bestiality laws when their anti-sodomy laws were struck down by the Supreme Court back in 1971. Although the new law only classifies bestiality as a misdemeanor, it does classify it as animal abuse. Hopefully, this should allow for more successful prosecutions in the future.

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A word about Sheriff Arpaio’s bestiality sting

At first, it looks like a step in the right direction. And it probably would be, if it didn’t stink of being little more than a half-assed publicity stunt.

The gist of it: Arizona police posted ads on Craigslist posing as someone offering their dog up for sex. Two men responded to the ads and arranged to meet an undercover officer at a local hotel with the intent of having sex with the dog. They were arrested upon arrival at the hotel, and now face charges of conspiring to commit animal cruelty.

But why Craigslist? Granted, setting up a sting on the site is a pretty simple matter. Only the dumbest of the dumb bother to put up personal ads for illegal activities there. Last year, there were widespread concerns over illegal activity taking place over the Craigslist personals section. It’s fairly difficult to keep under complete control – a search for the right keywords in the Personals section will usually get you something unsavory. New bad ads appear as fast as they get flagged, so it’s sort of a game of internet whack-a-mole trying to clean them off.

In this case, using the keyword “k9″ will usually net at least one advertisement for someone either offering their dog for sex or looking to have sex with someone’s dog. An example:

Thing is, only the dumber zoophiles use Craigslist – there are a number of zoophile-oriented forums that feature fairly active sections for personal ads. They are all hosted offshore, and law enforcement has yet to pay very much attention to them. They were certainly not the subject of this investigation. For this reason, it looks like this operation focused less on foiling animal sex exploitation and more on finding more reasons to rag on Craigslist and the supposed inadequacies of it’s community-driven moderation system.

What this whole “sting” looks like is more of an attempt by Arpaio to hop on the popular bandwagon of criticizing Craigslist for not policing it’s personals section as tightly as it possibly could. Indeed, he used the sting to send the president of Craigslist an open letter, criticising him for “providing a mechanism to facilitate obvious criminal activity”.

Notice that the operation had an extremely narrow focus, and ran for only a few months. In the end, it netted only two people. If this operation targeted any other form of criminal activity it would probably be labeled a farce. There is no word on continuing the operation, and even if there was a follow-up it would be completely compromised thanks to the whole affair making the national news.

So why all the posturing? One reason may be the department’s current image crisis. Arpaio is seen by many as something of a racist monster. He is connected with right-wing extremist groups and has been using his department to push a deeply anti-immigrant agenda. Occasionally he will pull off a PR stunt to try and polish his image. This is one of them.

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About Us

Project Wildfire is a new effort to attempt to bring attention to a wide-reaching deficit in existing animal cruelty laws. Namely, the lack in certain states and countries of the legal framework necessary to prosecute cases of sexual abuse where and when they occur.

It is a national disgrace that bestiality is not a felony in all states. Action must therefore be taken to change this, and the way to begin effecting that change is to inform the general public about the nature of the problem.

To this end, the site’s immediate goals are to document past incidents of abuse, the effects of this abuse, and methods of detecting or preventing it, as well as the activities of zoophile organizations and advocates.

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