SANTA FE — New Mexico is one of just two states without a law prohibiting bestiality — a fact that hampered prosecution last year of someone who posted an online ad seeking a horse to abuse, animal advocates told lawmakers Monday.
In a legislative hearing, members of the nonprofit Animal Protection Voters of New Mexico and other groups urged state lawmakers to pass a law expressly prohibiting the sexual abuse of animals and related acts.
“This is very difficult to talk about,” Jessica Johnson of Animal Protection Voters said Monday, “but this is something that needs to change.”
She cited the example of an ad posted last year from someone seeking a mare for sexual acts. Her organization reported the advertisement to law enforcement officers, who said there was nothing they could do without a change in the law, Johnson said.
M. Jenny Edwards, a criminologist who used to manage a large animal shelter in Washington, told lawmakers that it’s difficult to estimate the prevalence of bestiality in New Mexico.
But she mentioned some examples — one involving David Parker Ray, who was convicted about 20 years ago of kidnapping and torturing two women.
The sexual abuse of animals, Edwards said, is often linked to domestic violence, child abuse and other criminal behavior.
“Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away,” she said. “This is something that does happen in New Mexico.”
Several lawmakers expressed interest in helping craft a new statute that would make it a crime to sexually abuse an animal. West Virginia is the only other state without a bestiality law, Johnson said.
“I think it’s past time we do something about it,” Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, said during Monday’s hearing.
A bestiality prohibition, Johnson said, would complement New Mexico’s existing animal cruelty laws, which often rely on demonstrable signs of injury, which may not be present in some instances.