Laws prohibiting bestiality vary widely. The United States (US) is governed by both state and federal laws. (The opposite of this system is a centralized governance, such as that found in France and Great Britain, where the federal government sets laws for the entire country.)
The US is comprised of fifty states, four territories, and one federal district. In addition, the US military and indigenous tribes maintain their own sovereignty.
There is no federal statute prohibiting bestiality; however, there are federal laws against the depiction of animal torture or obscene images and material, so investigations should always inlude a search for images created, possessed, or distributed by the offender.
U.S. State laws vary considerably and are subject to change. For specific language, visit that state's website or consult an attorney licensed to practice in that state. Nearly all states have misdemeanor or felony prohibitions against bestiality; it is a felony crime in all 50 states if the animal is injured or dies.
As of June 2021 bestiality is specifically prohibited throughout the United States with the exception of New Mexico and West Virginia. For additional information, refer to:
just as they do in the U.S. In Eastern Europe, for example, Hungary, Italy, and Slovenia have no bestiality-related laws. Slovakia prohibits pornography depicting animals, but doesn't prohibit the act itself.
Why Bestiality Laws are Important
Bestiality is a significant social justice issue, and the full extent of the problem is unknown.
• Virtually all statistics related to bestiality are artificially low and may create a false sense of security that “it never happens here.” There are no reliable statistics nationwide on animal sexual abuse, but we do know that arrests for bestiality have occurred in every single state in the U.S.
• Bestiality is not “just” an act of animal cruelty; it is an act of sexual assault and coercion. Bestiality offenders behave much like pedophiles or rapists. They train their animals to accept or give penetration and other forms of sexual contact, photograph them in sexual situations, collect and share animal pornography, talk about their encounters with other animal sex abusers in private chat rooms, and frequently work in and around animal-related organizations such as veterinary clinics, animal shelters, and barns. Predators seek out their victims and trespass or break into properties in order to gain access to their sexual targets. These encounters frequently result in injury or death to the animal.
The problem is complex, and it is growing.
• Since 2005, the number of arrests for bestiality has risen dramatically. The real effect of the internet is unknown, but has definitely made it extremely easy for animal sex abusers to connect with one another, in effect normalizing their behavior. There are hundreds of websites that cater to people with a sexual interest inanimals, most of which allow for .
• There is growing evidence that bestiality may be a lifelong sexual orientation and not just something that happens rarely. Studies have indicated that zoosexuals typically have their first experience around 13; the average age of arrest is 43.
There are significant, measurable links between bestiality and other criminal behavior.
• Bestiality, particularly when experiences as a child, has been shown to be the single largest risk factor and strongest predictor of increased risk for committing child sexual abuse (Abel 2009).
• Nearly 40% of arrests for bestiality also involve child sexual abuse. More than half of all bestiality offenders have prior criminal records for sex-related crimes, domestic violence, battery, substance abuse, and property crimes such as trespass or breaking and entering. More than one-quarter of bestiality offenders will reoffend. ()