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Animal passions: Why would anyone want to have sex with an animal?

Note: A shortened version of this article was first published in The Independent.

Last month, Denmark passed a law making bestiality a criminal offence from July 1st in a move to tackle animal-sex tourism. Bestiality (also known as zoophilia) is typically defined as relating to recurrent intense sexual fantasies, urges, and sexual activities with non-human animals. At present, there are still a number of countries where zoophilia is legal including Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Finland, Hungary, and Romania. In the US there is no federal law against zoophilia although most states class it as a felony and/or misdemeanour although in some states it is technically legal (for example, Texas, Kentucky, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Wyoming, West Virginia, and New Mexico).

Over the last few years I have written articles on the psychology of many different types of zoophilia including those who have engaged in sexual activities with dogs (cynophilia), cats (aelurophilia), horses (equinophilia), pigs (porcinophilia), birds (ornithophilia), dolphins (delphinophilia), lizards (herpetophilia), worms (vermiphilia), and insects (formicophilia). Dr. Alfred Kinsey shocked the US back in the 1950s when his infamous ‘Kinsey Reports’ claimed that 8% of males and 4% females had at least one sexual experience with an animal. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was a much higher prevalence for zoophilic acts among people that who worked on farms (for instance, 17% males had experienced an orgasmic episode involving animals). According to Kinsey, the most frequent sexual acts that humans engaged in with animals comprised calves, sheep, donkeys, large fowl (ducks, geese), dogs and cats.

In the 1970s, world renowned sexologist Professor John Money claimed that zoophilic behaviours were usually transitory occurring when there is no other sexual outlet available. However, research carried out in the 2000s shows this not be the case. Up until the advent of the internet, almost every scientific or clinical study reported on zoophilia were case reports of individuals that has sought treatment for their unusual sexual preference. However, the internet brought many like-minded people together and there are dozens of websites where zoophiles chat to each other online and share their videos including the Beast Forum, the largest online zoophile community in the world with tens of thousands of members.

Almost all of the recently published studies have collected their data online from non-clinical samples. All of these studies report that the overwhelming majority of self-identified male and female zoophiles do not have sex with animals because there is no other sexual outlet but do so because it is their sexual preference. The most common reasons for engaging in zoophilic relationships were attraction to animals out of either a desire for affection, and a sexual attraction toward and/or a love for animals.

For instance, a study by Dr. Hani Miletski surveyed 93 zoophiles (82 males and 11 females). Only 12% of her sample said they engaged in sex with animals because there were no human partners available, and only 7% said it was because they were too shy to have sex with humans. For the females, the main reasons for having sex with animals was because they were sexually attracted to the animal (100%), had love and affection for the animal (67%) and/or because they said the animal wanted sex with them (67%). Most of Miletski’s sample preferred sex with dogs (87% males; 100% females) and/or horses (81% males; 73% females). Only 8% of males wanted to stop having sex with animals and none of the females. Unlike case study reports of zoophilia published prior to 2000, the studies published over the last 15 years using non-clinical samples report the vast majority of zoophiles do not appear to be suffering any significant clinical significant distress or impairment as a consequence of their behaviour.

In 2011, Dr Anil Aggrawal published a comprehensive typology of zoophilia in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. Dr. Aggrawal’s claimed there were ten different types of zoophile based on both the scientific and clinical literature, as well as some theoretical speculation. For instance:

  • Humananimal role-players – those who never have sex with animals but become sexually aroused through wanting to have sex with humans who pretend to be animals.
  • Romantic zoophiles – those who keeps animals as pets as a way to get psychosexually stimulated without actually having any kind of sexual contact with them.
  • Zoophilic fantasizers – those who fantasize about having sexual intercourse with animals but never actually do.
  • Tactile zoophiles – those who get sexual excitement from touching, stroking or fondling animals or their genitals but do not actually have sexual intercourse with animals.
  • Fetishistic zoophiles – those who keep various animal parts (especially fur) that are used as erotic stimuli as a crucial part of their sexual activity (typically masturbation). (See my previous blog on the use of an animal part as a masturbatory aid)
  • Sadistic bestials – those who derive sexual arousal from the torturing of animals (known as zoosadismhttps://drmarkgriffiths.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/stuff-love-a-beginners-guide-to-plushophilia/) but does not involve sexual intercourse with the animal.
  • Opportunistic zoosexuals – those who have normal sexual encounters but would have sexual intercourse with animals if the opportunity arose.
  • Regular zoosexuals – those who prefer sex with animals than sex with humans (but are capable of having sex with both). Such zoophiles will engage in a wide range of sexual activities with animals and love animals on an emotional level.
  • Homicidal bestials – those who need to kill animals in order to have sex with them. Although capable of having sex with living animals, there is an insatiable desire to have sex with dead animals.
  • Exclusive zoosexuals – those who only have sex with animals to the exclusion of human sexual partners.

Personally, I don’t view human-animal role players as zoophiles as this would include those in the Furry Fandom (individuals that dress up and interact socially as animals). There is no official definition of what a ‘furry’ actually is although most furries would agree that they share an interest in fictional anthromorphic animal characters that have human characteristics and personalities and/or mythological or imaginary creatures that possess human and/or superhuman capabilities. The furry fandom has also developed its own vocabulary including words such as ‘fursona’ (furry persona), ‘plushie’ (person who has sex with cuddly toys), and ‘yiff’ (furry pornography). A study by David J. Rust of 360 members of the furry community suggested less than 1% were plushophiles and that 2% were zoophiles.

Many zoophiles believe that in years to come, their sexual preference will be seen as no different to being gay or straight. This is not a view I adhere to especially because animals cannot give consent (although many zoophiles claim the animals they have sexual relationships with do give ‘consent’). The one thing we do know is that the internet has revolutionised the way we carry out our research and get access to ‘hard to reach’ groups. Thanks to online research, zoophilia is just one of many sexually atypical behaviours that we now know more about both behaviourally and psychologically.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.

Beetz, Andrea (2002). Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships between Humans and Animals. Germany: Shaker Verlag.

Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C.E., Gebhard, P.H. (1953). Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company.

Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C.E., (1948). Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company.

R.J. Maratea (2011). Screwing the pooch: Legitimizing accounts in a zoophilia on-line community. Deviant Behavior, 32, 918-943.

Miletski, H. (2000). Bestiality and zoophilia: An exploratory study. Scandinavian Journal of Sexology, 3, 149–150.

Miletski, H. (2001). Zoophilia – implications for therapy. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 26, 85–89.

Miletski, H. (2002). Understanding bestiality and zoophilia. Germantown, MD: Ima Tek Inc.

Williams, C. J., & Weinberg, M. S. (2003). Zoophilia in men: A study of sexual interest in animals. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 523–535.

Hot dogs: A bizarre case of zoophilic exhibitionism and frotteurism

In previous blogs, I have separately examined zoophilia (sexual arousal from animals), exhibitionism (sexual arousal from exposing one’s genitals to one or more people), and frotteurism (sexual arousal from rubbing one’s genitals against other people). Today’s blog examines the only case ever published in the scientific literature of zoophilic exhibitionism and zoophilic frotteurism.

The case in question dates back to a paper published in 1991 by Dr. Richard McNally and Dr. Brian Lukach in the Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. Their case study involved a white 33-year old “mildly mentally retarded man” (who they called ‘Mr. Z’) who was the only child of separated parents – an alcoholic father and a schizophrenic mother who also suffered from epilepsy (and who died when he was 12 years old). Mr. Z’s preferred sexual behaviour was to expose himself and masturbate in front of large dogs of either sex, and who also liked to rub his penis on large dogs. He had no sexual interest in small dogs or other animals (and would therefore be classed as an exclusive canophile that I  examined in a previous blog on cynophilia). Unlike most exhibitionists, he never exposed his genitals in front of women, and he never had sexual intercourse with the dogs. Mr. Z had engaged in a series of “satisfactory sexual relationships with women” (and also had a three-year marriage but had ended)

Mr. Z also engaged in zoophilic voyeurism (which in Mr. Z’s case involved sexual arousal from watching dogs). Various publications have noted situations where people may have voyeuristic fantasies about sexual contact with animals without actually wanting to have sex with them. Nancy Friday in her book My Secret Garden, included 190 fantasies from different women (of which 23 involved zoophilic activity). Friday argued that zoophilic fantasies had the capacity to provide an escape from cultural expectations, restrictions, and judgments in relation to sex. R.E.L. Masters in his 1962 book Forbidden Sexual behavior and Morality also noted that interest in and sexual excitement at watching animals mate may be an indicator of latent zoophilia.

Mr. Z was first caught at the age of 20 years rubbing his penis on the back fur of a neighbour’s dog. He was consequently hospitalized in a psychiatric institution and while there was taught to masturbate by another male patient. On leaving psychiatric care Mr. Z first began to masturbate in front of dogs (i.e., he exchanged zoophilic frotteurism for zoophilic exhibitionism). His usual pattern of behaviour was to use food to attract stray dogs in his neighbourhood and to take the dog back to his grandmother’s house (if she was not in). if the house was occupied he would simply take the dog to a nearby wooded area and masturbate in front of the dog. Once he had ejaculated, he would get the dog to lick his penis. However, Mr. Z never attempted to have sex with any of the dogs he masturbated in front of. Mr. Z was also of the opinion that the dogs enjoyed him masturbating in front of them, and based his opinion on an incident where a dog had rubbed its penis on his leg after a masturbatory session in front of the dog.

Mr. Z’s paraphilic behaviour dated back to a specific incident in childhood when at the age of just four years old, a male cousin told him that it was “fun” to rub a penis on the fur of a dog’s back. Following an arrest for masturbating in front of neighbour’s dogs, Mr Z was referred for treatment to address his “compulsive sexually deviant behaviour” after a neighbour had discovered him masturbating in front of her dog in her garden. In 1991, McNally and Lukach  treated Mr. Z using masturbatory satiation, covert sensitization, and contingency management procedures (avoiding setting that may provoke the behaviour) over a six-month period. After 15 sessions, Mr. Z’s rated interest in his most exciting zoophilic scenario dropped from 10 to 0, and that his sexual arousal to non-deviant scenes increased from 5 to 10 after 12 sessions. The treatment resulted in a reduction in his sexual arousal to dogs with no more reported incidents of him masturbating in front of dogs (although as far as I can ascertain there was no long-term follow-up).

Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices classified exhibitionists into four different types of exhibitionism:

  • Fantasizing Exhibitionists: This type comprises people that fantasize about exhibiting their genitals to other people but don’t actually do it.
  • Pure Exhibitionists: This type comprises people that expose their genitals to other people from a distance.
  • Exhibitionistic Criminals: This type typically comprises sexual offenders that are primarily exhibitionists, but may engage in other sexual crimes (e.g., paedophilia).
  • Exclusive Exhibitionists: This type typically comprises offenders that cannot form normal romantic and sexual relationships with other people. Here, exhibitionism is the sole outlet for sexual gratification.

Dr. Aggrawal specifically mentions zoophilic exhibitionists as belonging to the group of fantasizing exhibitionists and “may turn to zoophilic exhibitionism to fulfill their fantasies, since it apparently is a safer activity”. In a separate paper (in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine) presenting a new typology of zoophilia, Mr. Z would most likely be classed as a tactile zoophile who gets sexual excitement from touching, stroking or fondling an animal or their genitals but do not actually have sex with the animal. Aggrawal mentioned that that some tactile zoophiles engage in zoophilic frotteurism, and that for sexual pleasure rub their genitals against animals. Here, he seemed to be implicitly making reference to the case study by McNally and Lukach.

The paper by McNally and Lukach concluded that their case study was “especially unusual” for two specific reasons. Firstly, unlike most other zoophiles, “Mr. Z neither fantasized nor engaged direct sexual contact with dogs” but simply exposed himself in front of them. Secondly, his sexual preference was zoophilic exhibitionism over sexual intercourse with women.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.

Duffield, G., Hassiotis, A., & Vizard, E. (1998). Zoophilia in young sexual abusers. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 9, 294-304.

Friday, N. (1973). My Secret Garden. New York, NY; Simon & Schuster

Hensley, C., Tallichet, S. E., & Singer, S. D. (2006). Exploring the possible link between childhood and adolescent bestiality and interpersonal violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21, 910-923.

Masters, R.E.L. (1962). Forbidden Sexual behavior and Morality. New York, NY: Lancer Books.

McNally, R.J. & Lukach, B.M. (1991). Behavioral treatment of zoophilic exhibitionism. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 22, 281-284.

Going to the dogs: A brief look at cynophilia

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am not averse to looking at various types of human zoophilic behaviour. So far, I have written articles on zoophilia in general, zoophilia classification, zoosadism (sexual pleasure from being sadistic to animals), necrobestiality (sex with dead animals), and very specific forms of zoophilia including delphinophilia (sex with dolphins), porcinophilia (sex with pigs), equinophilia (sex with horses), herpetophilia (sex with lizards), ophidiophilia (sex with snakes), ornithophilia (sex with birds including avisodomy), musophilia (sexual stimulation from mice including felching), formicophilia (sexual stimulation from insects), and melissophilia (sexual stimulation from bees and bee stings). Today’s blog takes a brief look at cynophilia (sex with dogs).

In 2006, Dr. Lisa Shaffer and Dr. Julie Penn developed a comprehensive paraphilia classification system and published it as a book chapter in Dr. William Hickey’s book Sex Crimes and Paraphilia. Within this they included a list of various types of zoophilia and reported that cynophilia referred to sexual arousal from having sex with dogs (and that canophilia was sexual arousal from dogs, which I am assuming means that the person being aroused may not have had actual sexual contact with a dog).

Last year in Florida (USA), the Tampa Bay Times reported the case of Eric Atunes, a 29-year old man who was accused of having oral sex with a dog. As it turned out, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office “declined to pursue a charge of animal cruelty under the state’s new bestiality law” but it was confirmed that Atunes (an employee at the Pinellas County Humane Society) had six photographs on his mobile phone of himself performing sexual acts with his girlfriend’s three-legged dog, Ruby. The case was dropped because there is no law in Florida forbidding people having oral sex with animals. The newspaper reported that:

“Assistant State Attorney Beverly Andringa said her office declined to prosecute Antunes for bestiality because, out of the six photographs found on his cellphone, only one would meet the strict criteria of the statute. Officials also aren’t certain when all the photos were taken. Some might have predated the new law”.

In Georgia (USA), a 19-year-old man Bernard Archer was arrested after being caught on camera having sexual intercourse with pit bull dogs and charged with two counts of bestiality. A newspaper report said that:

“Dispatch advised [that] home owners witnessed a young black male having sexual intercourse with two dogs. WGCL-TV reports that Archer was hired to clean the cages of several pit bulls by Dr. Cathryn Lafayette, a local resident who owned the dogs. [On] Saturday [March 3], Lafayette was woken up from a nap by the Newton County police, who informed her of Archer’s crimes against her animals. Though initially skeptical of the claims, she was convinced when authorities showed her video evidence”.

I mention these recent cases just by way of establishing that sexual contact by human beings with dogs not only occurs but is reported on a fairly regular basis (i.e., both of these cases were from the last twelve months in the same country). There are also cases of what Dr. Anil Aggrawal would class as ‘cynophilia by proxy’ (based on a paper he had published in a recent issue of the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine,) where one person forces another (typically a man forcing his wife or partner) to have sex with a dog. Dr Aggrawal explains:

“This happened in R v Bourne (1952) 36 Cr App R 125 (CCA), in which the husband forced his wife to submit to a dog inserting its penis into her vagina. The husband was convicted of aiding and abetting his wife to commit buggery and sentenced to eight years in prison. The wife was not punished, since she acted under duress. In R v. Tierney (1990) 12 Cr. App. R(S) 216, the defendant took photographs of his wife having intercourse with his Alsatian dog for his own continuing satisfaction. In this case, three monthsimprisonment was given to the accused, but not to his wife, because she consented to perform the act in desperation in order to retain her husbands affections”.

Dr. Aggrawal also noted that in ancient. Rome, the practice of canine bestiality was so common that professional people (the Belluri) supplied dogs specifically for this purpose. Much more recently, academic studies of zoophilia have typically collected their data online from non-clinical samples. These zoophiles typically have a preference for zoophilic sex and rarely seek treatment as they are happy and content with their sexual orientation. In a 2001 issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice, Dr. H. Munro and Dr. M. Thrusfield (2001) reported that they had collected data on animal abuse from over 400 British vets. They reported that 6% of their cases involved sexual abuse based on their observations of injuries in the animals’ genital and anal areas. Of these, 21 cases referred to dogs and three to cats. Dr Andrea Beetz reported that among the 32 male zoophiles she surveyed, 78% had had sex with dogs. Dr Hani Miletski reported that among the 93 zoophiles she surveyed that most of her sample preferred sex with dogs (87% males; 100% females).

I have come across very few articles (academic or non-academic) purely on the topic of cynophilia. One of the most detailed (written by a zoophile) is at the Vivid Random Existence (VRE) website (an online essay on Cynosexuality (or cynophilia): the sexual attraction to dogs’). I do not endorse any of the (anonymous) author’s comments and the essay is written from a pro-zoophilia standpoint. The author of the essay notes that:

“Among all possible variants of zoosexuality, cynosexuality is one of the most common because the zoosexual size comparison rule — the fact is that there are many dog breeds, such as the Great Dane, which are physically capable of having sex with humans (without abuse occurring). This is why cynosexuality is fairly common among zoosexuals”.

The author then provides numerous quotes from many different cynophiles to highlight the commonility of this particular sub-type of zoophilia. Here are a just a few of the many examples cited taken from online zoophile forums such as the Beast Forum. (Please be warned that these are sexually explicit and you may find what is said offensive):

  • Extract 1: “I’ve only had experience with my one dog, but it is quite an amazing sensation, hot, tight, and slippery. A dog’s body temperature is a few degrees higher than a human’s, and with the extremely sensitive flesh of the human penis, makes for quite a pleasurable combination” (Neverfox)
  • Extract 2: “I have been with both species [humans and dogs] and my preference would have to be [the dog]; tighter, warmer and always wet” (St Benard)
  • Extract 3: “My male dog used to tell me that he was interested in sex or wants it…He would sniff at my crotch and paw at me. He only does this when he wants sex. This is Consent, both by me and by him. Any Zoo knows that animals if they want it, it may ask a human for sex. Zoos know that animals consent. There is no question about it!” (Anonymous)
  • Extract 4: “I have had sex with a female dog and it is wonderful! They never turn you down, are always horny… so why the hell not! Why deprive a dog of a sex life? Best of all, you can’t get pregnant and can’t get a STD from them!” (Dglover)
  • Extract 5: “Take it from me you will be addicted once you have a dog’s cock entering your [anus], but be careful the first time as his knot can really hurt if you have never had anything inside you before” (Oscarsbitch)

The author of the VRE essay uses these quotes to make a number of distinct points. The first point made is that the quotes indicate that some zoophiles prefer sex with dogs to sex with humans (and that zoophilic activity does not have to occur where there is an absence of a human sexual partner). This has already been confirmed in the empirical studies of academic researchers like Dr. Beetz and Dr. Miletski. The essay author also say the quotes “prove that most zoosexual people are devoted to their animals and treat them with respect, kindness and compassion; these kinds of people would never harm an animal…Additionally, it would appear as though dogs don’t mind having sex with people; in fact, some of them apparently like it!” The zoophiles may well be kind and respect the dogs concerned, but as I argued in previous blogs on both herpetophilia and delpinophilia, the animals cannot give informed consent, so therefore such sexual activity is (in my view) morally wrong.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK 

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.

Beetz, A. M. (2004). Bestiality/zoophilia: A scarcely investigated phenomenon between crime, paraphilia, and love. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 4, 1-36.

CBS Atlanta (2012). Cops: teen caught having sex with dogs on camera. March 7. Located at: http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/03/07/cops-teen-caught-having-sex-with-dogs-on-camera/

Jamison, P. & Morel, L.C. (2012). Man who had sex with dog won’t be charged because of unusual reason. Tampa Bay Times, June 20. Located at: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/man-who-had-sex-with-dog-wont-be-charged-because-of-unusual-reason/1236153

Miletski, H. (2000). Bestiality and zoophilia: An exploratory study. Scandinavian Journal of Sexology, 3, 149–150.

Miletski, H. (2001). Zoophilia – implications for therapy. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 26, 85–89.

Munro, H.M.C., & Thrusfield, M.V. (2001). “Battered pets”: Sexual abuse. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 42, 333-337.

Shaffer, L. & Penn, J. (2006). A comprehensive paraphilia classification system. In E.W. Hickey (Ed.), Sex crimes and paraphilia. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Vivid Random Existence (2010). Cynosexuality (or cynophilia): the sexual attraction to dogs. November 14. Located at: http://vividrandomexistence.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/cynosexuality-or-cynophilia-the-sexual-attraction-to-dogs/

Williams, C. J., & Weinberg, M. S. (2003). Zoophilia in men: A study of sexual interest in animals. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 523–535.

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