What is Bestiality?
Bestiality, sexual conduct between a human and an animal, is legal in Ohio unless it can be proven that unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering was caused to the animal. Ohio is one of only a dozen states without a specific law banning bestiality. It is demonstrated that bestiality, like other animal cruelty offenses, often has a correlation to offenses committed against humans. Jeremy Hoffman, a detective with Virginia’s Fairfax County Police, recently told a Senate committee that almost every child pornographer he arrested also had a collection of bestiality pornography.
Many efforts have been made in Ohio to prohibit bestiality, most recently Senate Bill 195 (SB 195). As of April 18, 2016, the bill is stalled in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
Taking Action Against Bestiality via “Home Rule”
In Ohio, municipal corporations (cities and villages) have certain powers granted to them in Article XVIII of the Ohio Constitution. This is called “home rule.” Article XVIII, § 3 of the Ohio Constitution provides that “[m]unicipalities shall have authority to exercise all powers of local self-government and to adopt and enforce within their limits such local police, sanitary and other similar regulations, as are not in conflict with general laws.”
Thus, it is possible, pursuant to municipalities’ home rule powers, to enact ordinances prohibiting bestiality within their jurisdictions. Some townships in Ohio also have home rule powers and two counties, Summit and Cuyahoga, have charter governments with county-wide home rule powers.
This document contains a model bestiality ordinance that is in accord with the current version of SB 195. In some instances, this model ordinance includes stricter provisions.
Jurisdictions considering enacting this model law should consult with legal counsel.
View the Model Ohio Bestiality Ordinance Here.