After Bestiality Bill Fades, Senator Vows to Continue Fight

Nan Rich will take up failed anti-animal sex law in 2011

The Florida Senator whose long-overdue anti-bestiality bill failed last week for the third year in a row said she'll continue to the fight to get it passed.

The Sexual Activities Involving Animals Bill, pet project of Sen. Nan Rich of Sunrise, died last week in the House after it was passed unanimously in the Senate in April.

"It's disappointing when a bill passes for the second year on the Senate side not to get it through the entire process," Rich said on Thursday. "It's fairly clear that [The House is] not comfortable discussing the issue.

"We'll have to start again next year."

Rich said the law, which would make it a first-degree misdemeanor to commit bestiality, with a penalty of up to a year in jail, is quite necessary.

Cases of people having sex with animals in the Sunshine State persist, Rich says. In pushing the bill last year, she cited bestiality cases including a Panhandle man who was suspected of accidentally asphyxiating a family goat during a sex act and the abuse of a horse in the Keys.

"It's very much needed," said Rich. "We need to provide law enforcement and state attorneys with the tools they need to prosecute."

An aide to Rich said the Senator has a track record of taking up animal welfare issues and is especially determined to see the bill pass.

"It's an issue close to her heart," legislative aide Kristin Carter said. "Most people are shocked when they find out this isn't already illegal in the state of Florida, it's kind of a no brainer."

Rich said that the fact that it got to the House was a good sign that lawmakers are seeing that bestiality is a worthwhile issue in Florida, one of only a dozen or so states where the practice isn't outlawed.

"We've made progress," she said. "In this process, I've learned it takes several years to get things to pass, especially things people might not be comfortable with.
"My colleagues have been very supportive, they know that it needs to happen. I just have a feeling that next year is the charm."

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