Man’s Best Friend with Benefits
Oliver Burdinski is fighting for the right to have a relationship with his dog. His purebred Siberian husky, Joey, is his sexual partner. And while some of his fellow Germans might reel at the prospect of intercourse with another species, Burdinski is open to discussing the taboo of being a literal animal lover. Just don’t use the word bestiality.
“I don’t like this word because it’s often misleading and used in different cases,” Burdinski told me.
Burdinski first realized he was a zoophile while growing up with a German shepherd—his family dog. He was responsible for taking care of the creature, which lived in his bedroom. Around the age of 14 or 15, the young man started exploring his sexuality with his companion. He remembers being more attracted to the dog than to humans but felt rather alone with such desires. After living without a dog for a decade, Burdinski began dating men and women. He settled down with a long-term girlfriend until 1995, when he got an internet connection. That’s when he discovered forums and chat rooms devoted to the zoophile community. Soon thereafter he broke it off with his human partner (they’ve remained good friends). Burdinski realized he could never be happy in a traditional relationship.
Animals Can Consent to Sex with Humans, Claims Human Accused of Running Animal Brothel
In April 2010, ex-cocaine smuggler Douglas Spink briefly dominated headlines when police raided his property in Whatcom County, Washington. Inside, they found a Welsh tourist making use of what the press has since described as an animal brothel, replete with tail-less mice covered in Vaseline. Overnight, Spink became the poster boy for the bizarre, brutal world of bestiality.
But according to Spink and journalist Carreen Maloney—whose upcoming book, Uniquely Dangerous, deals with his case—that’s not quite how things went down. Maloney believes, based on court records, that the Vaseline mice, for instance, were a fabrication created by the local Humane Society, and Spink says the ordeal is a manifestation of a bigoted assault on him for being an outspoken defender of heterospecies relationships, sometimes known as zoophilia.
Spink doesn’t consider himself just another animal fucker. He describes himself as a counter-surveillance researcher (at Baneki Privacy Labs), a heterospecies writer and thinker, and species equality activist who cut his teeth in frontline direct action in the 1990s with Earth First.
VICE recently spoke to Spink, in the final stretch of his current sentence, about his views on heterospecies identity, zoophobic bigotry, and our revilement of inter-species intimacy as a natural result of human solipsism and aggressively ecocidal policies.
VICE: First off, are you OK with being called a zoophile, or do you use a different term?
Douglas Spink: I tend to use “heterospecies” rather than “zoophile.” I see it as the difference between calling someone a faggot and calling them gay.
I do not think that I’m terribly good as a categorical representative of heterospeciesists or any particular class. I’m a bit of an outlier, even in the communities where I feel most at home. A BASE-jumping, Chicago MBA-carrying, counter-surveillance tech-developing Asperger’s-diagnosed oddball. Proudly so.
I have chosen a path of dissent from the default zoophobic stance in our current social sphere, and as a result I’ve been targeted and imprisoned. It’s a thought crime issue, not an action-based issue. My words are considered criminal, and enormous effort has been expended to censor me.
Can you tell me how you first got engaged in heterospecies identities and issues?
I was raised in a horse-centric environment, having learned to ride at age two. I was (and am) able to empathetically understand things from the horse’s perspective. In biology class, I was presented with some counter-intuitive claims of “facts that were decidedly incongruent with what I knew from my firsthand immersion alongside equine companions, like “Animals were devoid of any interest in sex or sexuality, and bred purely based on instinct.”
As a young teenager, I was able to learn about the (then new) horrors of factory farming from nonprofits like PETA. I became a lifelong (if imperfect) vegetarian, and my interest in activist work in support of non-human wellbeing kicked into high gear. Bring those threads together, and you get the question of heterospecies relations between humans and nonhumans.
Activists Couldn’t Stop 10,000 Dogs from Being Eaten in China Last Weekend
Over the last week, there’s been some pretty intense media coverage of China’s Dog Meat Festival, which has become something of a tradition over the last two decades. As the name suggests—and much to the dismay of all the people who see dogs as friends rather than food—tens of thousands of dogs are slaughtered and eaten each year at the event, which takes place in the city of Yulin, Guangxi province.
I was in Yulin on Saturday, when locals once again raised glasses loaded with lychee wine to the heavens and tucked into bowls full of freshly roasted, fried and boiled dog.
Pet-lovers across China and the rest of the world have been quick to lament Yulin’s apparently boundless appetite for puppy flesh, and several Chinese celebrities have made online pleas to bring the festival to a halt. However, locals are reluctant to give up their annual gathering. When I spoke to one female vendor in the downtown Dong Kou meat market, she told me she’d lost count of the number of dogs she’d sold in the last week but guessed it was well over a hundred a day—business has rarely been better.
Shandai, from animal protection group the Guangdong Shoushan Volunteer Center, reckoned that previous estimations of 10,000 dogs being sacrificed for the festival are too low, claiming the figure is more like 40,000. (Plus 10,000 cats, in case you’re not really a “dog person”)
Walking around the city, the presence of animal rights protesters seemed to have resulted in an unapologetic backlash. Locals filling their baskets with freshly chopped paws and tails were defensive over their dog-eating customs, one woman in the market declaring indignantly, “I’m not forcing them to eat dog, so they can’t force me to stop.”
“Even more people are eating dog this year,” complained Pian Shan Kong, an animal activist from Guizhou who has been observing the festival for three years. “As outsiders come to protest, locals are spurred on to resist.” Kong is currently holding four rescued pups in his Yulin hotel room—the guy who sold him them reportedly got angry when he realized they weren’t destined for the dinner plate, and threatened to slice all four open on the spot if Kong couldn’t match his inflated asking price.
Animal Rights Activist Sentenced to 30 Months in Jail for Having Bolt Cutters in his Car
An animal rights activist with a long history of activism—and an equally long rap sheet—was sentenced to 30 months in jail for having bolt cutters in the back of his Prius.
Kevin Olliff and Tyler Lang were driving through rural Illinois on August 15, 2013, at about 1 AM when they were pulled over by police. The cops say they stopped them because the brand-new green Prius had only temporary dealer plates. But rather than let them off with a warning, police asked to search the car.
Olliff and Lang refused to consent to the search and quickly realized that this wouldn’t be a normal traffic stop. After police separated them into two squad cars, Lang heard one officer on the police radio say of Olliff, “He’s on the terrorist watch list.”
Police brought out drug-sniffing dogs, and not surprisingly, they say the dogs smelled something (Lang says “the hardest drug in the car was caffeine”). When police searched the car, they found, among other items, bolt cutters and wire cutters. The two were charged with “possession of burglary tools,” a felony.
Marineland Is a Hellhole Filled with Animal Abuse and Mass Graves
Marineland, Niagara Falls’ premier tourist destination, was opened in 1961 by John Holer. At the time, John was a portly Slovenian immigrant who couldn’t find work when he arrived to Canada. With what little money he had, and what little English he could speak, Holer built two water tanks and acquired three sea lions. When he opened Marineland’s doors, admission was 25 cents per person. In the 52 years since then, Marineland has expanded to include a large collection of animals, animal shows, and a theme park with over a dozen rides. His is the kind of story that gives one hope, and makes one look nostalgically to the past when things were simpler, right? No. According to an exposé headed by Toronto Star reporter Linda Diebel, Marineland is rife with animal neglect and poor facility conditions that have led to an ever-evolving series of depressing stories, distressing events, and grim accounts from Marineland employees. Not to mention the protests, lawsuits, and public overload of bleeding hearts.
In the original Star report, a group of former Marineland employees came forward with allegations that the park suffered from poor water quality. They also noted that the park was understaffed and mentioned several cases of animal neglect. Doesn’t sound so hellish at first, right? Well, the water in some of the facilities was turning green and causing seals to lose their vision, and one of them even had an eye pop out of its socket when it barked because the water eroded its eye lens away. Several dolphins were losing their skin, which was coming off in chunks in the pools. A baby beluga named Skoot contracted bacterial meningitis, and was then attacked by other whales that threw her into a stone wall and killed her. After that, she was pulled from the pool by two trainers and “convulsed and died in their arms.” There is even a logbook from a former Marineland supervisor, who wrote that water was coming up from a sewer near Friendship Cove that was so corrosive itate the tires off a pickup truck.
But Marineland doesn’t limit their severe conditions to aquatic animals. There are also land animals that get to feel the pain, and their problems are even more grim. According to this article, Marineland has a cramped collection of 15 bears. They share four dens and are underfed. They have to fight for corn pops, which people throw at them, and occasionally eat their own young. There was an incident where one bear was killed by four other bears as a crowd observed.