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West Virginia man faces felony charges for animal sexual abuse

Disturbing criminal case shows need for strong animal sexual abuse state law

The Humane Society of the United States is congratulating the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office in West Virginia for filing felony animal cruelty charges against Victor Zandlo of Brenton for suspected animal sexual abuse, as well as for removing Zandlo’s remaining animals.

The case began when Zandlo’s stepdaughter brought a dog named Grace to Paw Patrol, a local animal rescue, on May 3. The dog had sustained severe injuries. Paw Patrol took Grace to Washington Area Animal Adoption Group, where she received urgently needed veterinary care. Tragically, Grace’s trauma was too overwhelming and severe to overcome.

Paw Patrol alerted The HSUS of suspected sexual abuse. The HSUS immediately contacted law enforcement and worked with Lt. Scott Cook on pursuing felony charges. The HSUS is offering support and expertise to the county prosecutor.

While serving Zandlo with an arrest warrant on May 8, law enforcement removed six other dogs, and additional charges are pending. A veterinarian is examining the remaining dogs, who will be transported to Angels of Assisi, an HSUS Emergency Placement Partner, where they will be placed for adoption.

The HSUS will provide financial assistance to Washington Area Animal Adoption Group and Angels of Assisi to assist with the veterinary costs incurred and has offered assistance to the county prosecutor.

The prosecution of animal sexual abuse cases in West Virginia is rare because it is one of only eight states that don’t ban animal sexual abuse.

“Grace suffered such horrendous bodily injury that felony animal cruelty charges could be applied, but animals should not have to endure this much pain and suffering before meaningful penalties can be charged for sexual assault,” said Heather Severt, West Virginia state director for The HSUS. “We’re calling on the West Virginia legislature to enact a strong animal sexual abuse law and not allow this type of blatant animal cruelty in our state.”

The HSUS provides free trainings for law enforcement officers in West Virginia and around the country on animal cruelty investigations to help combat animal cruelty in their communities. The next training in West Virginia is on June 8 in New Martinsville.

Facts:

  • Sexual abuse of animals is the number one predictor of a person who will sexually abuse a child (Abel 2008).
  • The FBI researched the backgrounds of serial sexual homicide perpetrators and found high rates of sexual assault of animals (Ressler 1988). The FBI tracks bestiality as a separate crime in the National Incident Based Reporting System in the same category with rape and murder.
  • Multiple studies have found that nearly 40 percent of animal sexual abusers have sexually abused children.

Media Contact: Samantha Miller: 301-258-1466; smiller@humanesociety.org

 
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