Overview of Investigation
One of the hurdles with prosecuting this crime is learning of the actual offenses, similar to human trafficking, child pornography, or other crimes there is a requirement of another person or the victim to report the crimes to the police. Currently, most the studies and information gained about bestiality are academic or scientific in nature
National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
NIBRS collects data reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from law enforcement agencies of the crimes. There are a number of animal cruelty crimes currently being tracked by the FBI. Animal cruelty crimes are defined as a Group A felony by the FBI. These crimes are broken into the following four (4) categories: 1) Simple or gross neglect; 2) Intentional abuse and torture; 3) Organized abuse such as dogfighting or cockfighting; and 4) Animal sexual abuse.
As of January 1, 2016 FBI began tracking and collecting data of where animal cruelty crimes are being committed. However, there is an issue with this collection through the NIBRS only thirty-one percent (31%) of the country is represented in the NIBRS and animal sexual assault is currently only illegal in forty-one (41) states. Meaning that if sexual assault of an animal occurs in a state where it is legal regardless of where or not the county and state participates in NIBRS reporting the FBI has no knowledge of the crime. Thus, any numbers that are collected will be inaccruate until all fifty (50) states prohibit sexual contact or sexual conduct with an animal.
farm animal cruelty investigation vs. companion animal cruelty investigation
In a farm animal cruelty case due to secrecy of the industry and general seclusion of the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs), it is extermely difficult to investigate and report any animal cruelty crimes. However, undercover investigations have been extermely important to showing the reality of the inhumane treatment farm animals or livestock receive.
Most of the treatment farm animals recieve, such as debeaking or taildocking is deemed industry or customary standard husbrandry practices, sexual contact or sexual conduct with an animal is a form of animal cruelty that regardless of what species of animal is the recipent of this trauma would never endure and recieve justice for.
Undercover investigations are nothing new, one of the first undercover investigations of the inhumane treatment of animals put to slaughter is The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Currently, one of the most well known organizations who specializes in undercover investigations of animal factory farming industries is Mercy for Animals.
Mercy for Animals goes through the following process during its investigation: 1) Training an undercover investigator; 2) placing the investigator uncover at a farm through employment; 3) film footage is reviewed by counsel; 4) any crimes which fall under the state animal cruelty statute is reported to the proper authorities.
Because animal cruelty is criminal in nature it is the state or county attorney that must bring charges against the offender. However, it is important to note that not all prosecutors are willing to bring charges due to inexperience with the crime or influences of the industry in the county.