Abhorrent, disgusting, frightening: Activists testify before Assembly about bestiality bill.

Byline: Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

Wisconsin lawmakers and animal-rights activists spoke out in support of a bill to make bestiality a felony. Speakers at the public hearing on Thursday cited possible reasons why people might engage such behavior, blaming a cultural phenomenon and the occult.

The Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety met Thursday for an executive session and a public hearing. The hearing included discussion about a proposed bill to make having or promoting sexual contact with an animal a felony. The crime is currently a misdemeanor.

Lawmakers and animal rights leaders who testified at the public hearing cited recent incidents of animal abuse around the state. Sen. Andr Jacque, R-De Pere, a sponsor of the bill, said horse owners he's talked to are concerned.

"When they find out someone is on the loose in the area, they sleep in the barn with a gun," said Jacque.

Eilene Ribbens, board member of the Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies, said a 2016 survey documented in one month more than 1,000 Wisconsin Craigslist ads soliciting sexual contact with animals. Ribbens said studies show one-third of animal abusers also abuse children.

"It's a cultural phenomenon that is abhorrent, disgusting and frightening," said Ribbins.

She and Megan Nicholson, Wisconsin state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said this bill is an opportunity to change current legal loopholes and right wrongs.

"This is a bigger problem that we want to admit," said Nicholson.

Rep. Chuck Wichgers...

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