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Baaa means no! Will the House keep bestiality legal?

The Florida Senate just unanimously voted (again) to make sex with animals illegal. Sen. Nan Rich introduced the bill, noting "I know people would rather I not describe it... This is a serious issue." She said those who have sex with/abuse animals are likely to do the same to kids.... er.... children.

Here's the story that started it all:

January 4, 2008 Friday

Goat abuse sparks outcry;
The case of a goat who was raped and killed has prompted a push for a bill that would outlaw bestiality in Florida.



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After a goat was raped and killed in a Panhandle town, animal activists, police and citizens were almost as shocked to find out that bestiality isn't a crime in Florida.

But it might be soon.

A Sunrise state senator and a St. Petersburg representative have filed legislation to make it a first-degree felony to have sex with animals or promote or advertise bestiality.

''It's true. It's sick. There needs to be a law,'' said Democratic Sen. Nan Rich, a longtime crusader for children and animal rights. ``There are 30 states that make this a crime. Florida isn't one of them.''

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who called the situation ''unbelievable,'' said Thursday he would sign the bill into law if it made it to his desk.

Rich said she was as shocked as she was disgusted when she learned of the rape and asphyxiation last year of a family pet goat named Meg -- who was pregnant with twins -- in the town of Mossy Head in rural Walton County.

A suspect in the case, a 48-year-old man, is serving an 11-month, 29-day jail sentence on animal-theft charges in connection with the attempted abduction of another goat in a separate case, according to Walton County Assistant State Attorney James Parker.

Parker said he couldn't prosecute the suspect in the death of Meg because DNA samples taken with a sheriff's office rape kit were inconclusive.

Parker said he asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement last week to retest the evidence.

But even if there's a DNA match, Parker said the suspect could only be charged with misdemeanor trespassing and animal cruelty, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Parker said the suspect could not be arrested for bestiality because it isn't a crime. The prosecutor added that the man is ''definitely a suspect'' because he was arrested trying to take another person's goat Feb. 3 shortly after Meg was choked to death from her collar that had been tightly held around her neck.

Parker said it was the suspect's second livestock-theft charge. Dee Thompson-Poirrier, of Okaloosa County Animal Services, said Meg the goat was once featured at a 4-H Club, and had been given to a family with small children by a neighbor who had suspected an area man -- she wouldn't say who -- of abusing the animal.

Thompson-Poirrier said she was called in to handle the case because Walton County locals believed it would best be handled by someone outside the county. She said Meg's owner heard a suspicious noise the night of the incident and only later learned that someone had set her dogs free and had left dog biscuits near the fence to lure the animals away from Meg.

While the rape and killing were shocking, Thompson-Poirrier said so was the fact that bestiality isn't even a crime here. ''I found out far more about goats and bestiality than I ever wanted,'' she said.

Rich said the prohibition against bestiality is important because studies show that those who abuse animals may also abuse children. She expects the legislation that she's sponsoring with Democratic Rep. Frank Peterman to pass during the spring lawmaking session, though they might reduce the first-degree felony charge calling for a maximum 30-year prison sentence for committing, promoting, abetting or possessing pornography of bestiality.

Otherwise, the bill is too little, too late.

''The fact that this happens is unconscionable,'' Rich said. ``And it should be illegal.''

Thompson-Poirrier says her PAWS society spent about $5,000 investigating the case and having the suspect's DNA analyzed.

The odd local publicity helped bring back about $300, when a man from nearby Crestview made a series of $10 goat T-shirts for sale.

One shirt depicts a goat saying ``Baaa Means No!''