AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - As more animals are brought to the city shelter with signs of sexual abuse, city animal officials are working to make bestiality a crime in Amarillo.
Texas is one of about a dozen states where bestiality is not illegal, though the act could fall under general animal abuse laws. There is one man currently in custody in Potter County who law and animal officials said is suspected of partaking in bestiality
But because no law specifically forbids bestiality, he can't be charged with it.
"If someone does an act to an animal that is sexual in nature, and in the event the animal is hurt during the course of that act and they fail to render vet care to it is when the crime actually occurs that we can prosecute that individual," said Richard Havens, Director of Amarillo Animal Management & Welfare.
While the city can't charge this as a major crime because of the lack of state laws, it can still make it a citable offense in city limits.
Animal Management & Welfare has been working to create a city ordinance that would make bestiality in city limits a Class C Misdemeanor.
That's the highest charge the department can give, and would mean a citation and fine for offenders.
"It's a very uncomfortable subject that a lot of people don't want to know about, but it's very prevalent here in the panhandle," said Havens. "Amarillo needs to take the lead and start setting a new precedence for how we treat animals in our community."
While imposing a fine or two may not be enough to end the bestiality problem, Havens is confident it will scare repeat offenders.
"The individuals that perform these acts, we do tend to find that it's a fairly tight knit community of those who communicate amongst each other," he said. "Word's going to get out that we are making it illegal and we are going to start enforcing those acts."
That ordinance will be presented during the work session of Tuesday's city council meeting.
Havens hopes it will be an agenda item next week and passed as soon as possible.