Animal advocates have called for a “national overhaul” of animal sex laws, including an offender registry, following the explosive revelation of prominent zoologist Adam Britton’s years-long abuse.
The crocodile expert, who appeared on an ABC program, pleaded guilty earlier this year to 56 charges of animal abuse related the “sadistic” sexual assault and killing of more than 42 dogs at his Darwin home.
Mr Britton procured the animals using online marketplace Gumtree, before filming their brutal killings. The videos were shared to online forums catering to like-minded “zoos”, or sexual animal abusers.
NSW Animal Party of Australia MLC Emma Hurst said she had written to the Northern Territory government urging a stronger stance against bestiality offenders amid calls for a “national dialogue.”
“We want to start a national campaign (because) it’s a conversation people don’t want to have. It is a really difficult to talk about the sexual abuse of animals. But, it has to be had,” Ms Hurst said.
“If there is legislation that is outdated and has weak penalties, it does nothing to recognise the seriousness of these crimes.
That’s why we’ve got to have tough laws right across Australia.”
While “small” changes had been made to relevant laws in the Northern Territory, MS Hurst said her letters to Minister for Agribusiness and the Attorney-General had been met with “radio silence”.
On Tuesday, a motion will be tabled in NSW parliament by MS Hurst calling for a national overhaul of animal sex abuse laws, including in NSW where some of the toughest laws are already in place.
Under existing amendments to the Crimes Act put forward by the Animal Justice Party, people convicted of bestiality offences automatically receive a lifetime ban from owning animals, including dogs.
Ms Hurst said that while these amendments gave magistrates greater power to protect animals and prevent reoffending, more still needed to be done to empower police to crackdown on animal sex abuse.
“As a starting point, what we need is a registry of bestiality offenders. That is something we’ve been talking about in NSW (where) it would need to link up to the new pet registry,” Ms Hurst said.
“Under the pet registry – which we are also working on – anytime an animal is sold or is adopted by somebody, the registration of that animal is transferred to the new person. That can happen immediately.
“When people have a lifetime animal ban, that can be flagged on the system potentially to make sure that (the adoption) doesn’t happen. Agencies like RSPCA and police will have access to the registry.
“Police will also have oversight on these laws and actually be able to see people’s details. So, if anything is ever flagged to them, they can actually confiscate any animals that that person has in their care.”
In NSW, there are seven cases of animal abuse recorded yearly, according to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Ms Hurst said she feared there were many more than never appear in court.
She hoped greater national dialogue about animal sex abuse could lead to increased funding for police, as well as long-awaited legislation in NSW against so-called puppy farms and private breeders.
Ms Hurst said the Minns’ government had so far not delivered on its election promise on strengthening laws against puppy farms, many of which who operate on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree.