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Week of 4/24/2017

Week of 4/24/2017

NV Legislative Bldg. photo: Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal / @benjaminhphoto

Legalized bestiality opponents look now to Carson City, where Tuesday the 25th is the deadline for passage of Assembly Bill 391.

The Nevada bestiality bill was amended Monday to bar people convicted of animal sexual assault from working or volunteering in an animal shelter. This amendment also would require offenders to pay associated veterinary bills regardless of who owns the animal. Prison time, mandatory mental health evaluations/counseling, and forfeiture of animals were unchanged and remain in the current version of the bill.

If the Nevada legislature passes Assembly Bill 391, will the new law serve as a model in 2018 for lawmakers in the handful of states (e.g. Kentucky) where animal rape is still legal?

Meanwhile in Austin, the  Texas bestiality bill (House Bill 1087) was suddenly met with last-minute opposition from the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance (RPOA). The RPOA website also identifies the group as the Texas chapter of the American Kennel Club (AKC). According to an RPOA action alert released this week, the group apparently believes it would be a mistake to outlaw the fondling of an animal’s anus or genitals. Despite exceptions for normal veterinary practices, representatives of the RPOA claim the bill’s passage would result in groomers and dog show handlers going to jail for simply doing their jobs. Never mind that HB 1087 already makes exceptions for “generally accepted and otherwise lawful animal husbandry or veterinary practice.” I could have lots of fun talking about the depth of mental impairment embodied in the RPOA’s action alert, but Craig Malisow of the Houston Press beat me to it. Malisow editorializes like wild, but I can’t hold that against him because his analysis is spot-on accurate.

Still, I wanted to know the facts. So I got in touch with Katie Jarl, Senior Director for Humane Society of the United States in Texas. Jarl leads the effort to pass HB 1087. She shared with me the action alert she received this week, in which the RPOA urges its members to oppose the Texas bestiality bill. It even suggested pet owners “would be in violation when checking pets for parasites, bathing, grooming or simply cuddling with pets lying across your lap, chest or stomach.”

I was briefly tempted to dismiss this effort to derail the bill as a quixotic campaign against common decency. But Ms. Jarl tells me the RPOA invests heavily in lobbying, paying a former Texas House speaker to rattle the cages of lawmakers who would otherwise vote in the interests of their constituents. So while HB 1087 was on track for passage, its future could be less certain as of this week.