TAMPA – Southwest Florida prosecutors say they are powerless to prosecute a former animal shelter employee who is accused of performing sexual acts on a dog, because a loophole in the state’s anti-bestiality laws doesn’t expressly forbid oral sex with animals.
The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office declined to charge suspect Eric Antunes with animal cruelty, after he was arrested in May for allegedly having oral sex with his girlfriend’s three-legged pit-bull.
Antunes, from Clearwater, faces kiddie porn-related charges after police say he admitted to downloading and viewing child pornography on his computer.
But animal rights activists are aghast that the letter of the law has been twisted in direct defiance of the spirit of the law. “We need to close up this loose loophole,” Rick Chaboudy, executive director of the Suncoast Animal League, told the Tampa Bay Times. “This is one of those crimes that you can’t possibly imagine that it goes on, but I’m sure at one point in time, somebody said the same thing about child pornography.”
An anonymous tip led police to Antunes, 29, who was said to have child pornography on his computer.
Investigators found six pictures of him engaged in sexual acts with the pit-bull mix, named Ruby, and he was arrested on May 1. Prosecutors declined to charge Antunes with bestiality, because only one of the photos “would meet the strict criteria of the statute.”
Antunes had previously worked at the Pinellas County Humane Society, and is the live-in-boyfriend of the organization’s medical director, who reportedly resigned after his arrest.
Investigators say they have no proof that she was aware of Antune’s activities with her dog.