Identified as property, a person should be able to do what they want, how they want, and when they want to their property, their animal. Animals unlike a car, house, or mineral rights, are living, breathing organisms that need food and water to survive. In most animal cruelty state statues it states that not giving basic shelter, food and water (welfare essentials to survive) is a crime. Depending on your state, this crime could be a misdemeanor or a felony. Similar, violating the santity of a being's life regardless of species should be illegal and classified as a felony.
What is consent?
Consent in crimes of sexual assault is known as “what distinguishes licit form illicit sexual activity between human beings.” It is important to determine what actually constitutes consent, which is dependent on autonomy of the individual.
Haynes in The Bestiality Proscription: In A Search of A Rationale, discusses while current property laws protect the owner from undue governmental interference and the owner’s rights must sometimes yield to legitimate, countervailing interests applying consent consistently would render animal slaughter, routine farming practices, zoos, and ritual sacrifice illegal as well. Thus, Haynes argues that using consent to justify current bestiality proscriptions is “irrationally inconsistent.” However, what Haynes fails to analyze is the statutory consent, similar to children, usually minors ages seventeen (17) and under cannot statutorily consent even if they were voluntarily with a sound mind and body say “yes.”
Additionally, Haynes argues the “entire notion of sexual autonomy is contingent upon requiring validly obtained consent. But as applied to nonhuman animals, that objection proves too much." Using the example of cows being artificially inseminated or the policy of having animals spayed and neutered shows that consent to protect the animal’s sexual autonomy falters on an irrational inconsistency.
However, what Haynes fails to point out is that sexual autonomy is not the same as pleasure. It is not that animals cannot derive pleasure from sex; it is that animals, such as dogs, interacting with or in a sexual act will do so due to loyalty.
Canis lupus familiaris, dogs, social structure is a pack with an alpha male and female pair at the top controlling, guiding, the pack. The other dogs in the pack are submissive to the alpha and will do what they are asked no question. In a human-dog relationship, the human is the alpha and the dog is submissive, loyal, and wants to please the alpha. Understanding this social structure is important to understanding that similar to children or a vulnerable adult they do not understand consent or can consent.
While, many people will immediately argue that putting animals in this category for consent raises many constitutional issues and will as Haynes argues make animal slaughter and routine farming practices illegal, this argument is not to give animals constitutional rights or make them “natural persons,” but instead treat animal owners as guardians. Guardians, similar to parents, who are required as in animal cruelty laws to give animals basic food, water, and shelter. Additionally, in the case of animal sexual assault it will require the owners to respect the animal’s sanctity of life and those who violate that, like pedophiles should lose their right to care for that animal, be around their animals and all animals for the good of society.
In a current 2017 case in Pensacola, Florida where a Pit Bull mix named Baby Girl has been allegedly been sexual abused by the Defendant for three (3) years has been diagnosed by the Escambia County Animal Shelter staff to have aggressive tendencies to others except to the Defendant. “[A]nimal handler assessment [said] the dog (Baby Girl) had aggressive tendencies, and would show loyalty to only one person at once.”
Baby Girl is exhibiting signs similar to a woman who has battered women’s syndrome or a person with Stockholm syndrome. The defendant’s actions were about power and control, which abused a relationship of responsibility of care for another living being.