Joy Joco of Suffolk, Virginia, left her horses to graze while running errands this past Labor Day. Upon returning home, she noticed that one was bleeding. After examining Angel, her veterinarian turned to her and said, “This horse has been raped, you need to call the police.” The assailant(s) cut through a fence in the field behind her home, physically restrained Angel, and proceeded to sexually assault her with a blunt object (perhaps a baseball bat). The case remains open.
WTKR (9/8/10) quotes a pair of psychology professors. Louis Janda: “Somebody who could harm an animal doesn’t really have the same sense of empathy that most of us have, to hate to see other living creatures suffer.” Daralene Colson: “For people who lack empathy, attempts at treatment are fairly limited. If you just don’t have the sense, it’s hard to change someone so that they feel something when they see people or animals suffering.”
On October 21st, Long Island’s Mitchell Marsicano was arrested for sexually abusing his 23 lb. Shibu Inu in his tenants’ apartment (who had taken in the dog after witnessing prior abuse, including a sex act on October 12th). The tenant, Daniel Miller, awoke to “squealing” and “the worst picture imaginable.” The charges: one count of second degree burglary, and one count each of sexual misconduct and attempted sexual misconduct.
Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice said, “It’s unimaginable to think that anyone could carry out such unspeakable acts of cruelty and violence on a defenseless animal.” And Miller added, “He’s a monster.” But consider this: The burglary charge is a Class C felony that carries up to a 15 year sentence; the sexual misconduct (euphemism defined) charges are misdemeanors with a one year maximum. In other words, breaking into someone’s apartment is about 15 times more serious than raping a sentient animal. Imagine that.
Society cannot punish this monstrous act appropriately because Snowball is a piece of property. We know intuitively that burglary and rape are not on the same moral plane, but as legal things, animals have no serious protection. This conflict of interests almost always favors the property owner.
While zoophilia and bestiality are complicated issues that could be defended in a philosophical vacuum, the harsh reality is that people can (and do) abuse their chattel. NYS should be ashamed that raping the family dog remains a misdemeanor (even if adjudged aggravated cruelty, still only two years). At the very least, everyone should know about Marsicano’s proclivities through an abuser registry. As Drs. Janda and Colson explain, it is almost certain that empathy for animals cannot be taught to rapists, so we need to know who and where these people are.