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Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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Only two states, New Mexico and West Virginia, have no laws against sexual abuse of animals but a new push in Santa Fe is seeking to change that. On Monday, Positive Links, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing all forms of family violence, spoke in front of state lawmakers along with other organizations at the Courts, Corrections & Justice Committee interim hearing for the State Legislature about enacting a long-overdue statute criminalizing bestiality.

“The reason why we are pushing for it is because we are only one of two states in the country that still allow bestiality, and it’s really time for that to change,” Positive Links President Tammy Fiebelkorn said.

In an interview with The Paper. Fiebelkorn spoke about the historical lack of action by New Mexico lawmakers and how, by tackling this issue, it will have far greater benefits to New Mexico communities. 

“It’s important to protect animals from sexual abuse, but we also know that animal abuse is closely linked with child abuse and other forms of interpersonal violence,” Fiebelkorn said. 

According to Positive Links “over half of all animal sex offenders have a prior criminal history, including robbery, theft, assault and other criminal sex acts. About one-third of animal sex offenders also sexually abuse children or adults. Another third of offenders who do not commit contact offenses collect child pornography. In addition, bestiality offenders often commit crossover crimes, suggesting that these offenders may be more likely to reoffend or exhibit escalating behavior over time.”

Fiebelkorn said that the bill was received with enthusiasm by New Mexico lawmakers, with Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque), Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-Albuquerque), and Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Albuquerque) speaking in support of the legislation. Fiebelkorn also noted that there had not been any opposition to the proposed legislation from either party. 

New Mexico’s lack of any apparent legal consequences for animal abuse was evident last year after someone was reported to the APNM hotline for posting a Craigslist ad about “bonding” with a mare. When asked about the intention of the post, the author of the post blatantly said that his motivation was that there was no legal consequence and that he was seeking a community of people with similar interests. “Lets be real I want sex I found out that it’s legal and common here so I’m looking for that and some like-minded folks.” The ad was posted in October, 2020. 

Positive Links is pushing for legislation that will invest in infrastructure to respond to cases, including funding for professional training, support for co-sheltering models and further support for CARE-related services (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere). They also hope that legislation will require and institutionalize cross-reporting between relevant agencies. Positive Links is pushing to amend the Family Violence Protection Act, which would extend protections to cases involving harm to a victim’s companion animal, allowing for protective orders to include the animal. The legislation would also finally make bestiality illegal in New Mexico. 

“This is protecting animals, but it is also protecting the community, because there is such a link between animal sexual abuse and child sexual abuse and child pornography. So it really is a concept that will make out community safer in general,” FiebelKorn said. 

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