There is a well-documented link between animal cruelty and acts of violence against humans.

For several years, ARFF pushed for legislation to make sexual contact with animals a crime. A bill outlawing the sexual abuse of animals was finally enacted in 2011. This week, that law was used to sentence a man in St. Johns County to eight years in prison. James Lee Lyons was arrested twice in 2013 for raping dogs. Lyons is a registered sexual predator with a previous conviction for sexual battery on a child.

When law enforcement and courts take animal cruelty seriously, they may be preventing other acts of violence. This year in Tallahassee, a bill has been introduced that would significantly increase penalties for animal cruelty. Please contact your State Representative and ask him or her to sign on as a co-sponsor of House Bill 637.

The 2014 legislative session will officially begin on March 4. Visit ARFF’s website for updates on animal protection legislation.