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Originally published July 16, 2010 at 8:51 PM | Page modified July 16, 2010 at 9:41 PM

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Man who ran animal-sex operation sentenced for probation violation

Douglas Spink, whose Whatcom County property was allegedly used for animal-sex tourism, was sentenced Friday to three years in federal prison for violating his probation in a drug case.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Had it not been for evidence of the seven large-breed male dogs, the four stallions and the bestiality tapes found at his house, the sentencing of Douglas Spink before a federal court judge on Friday would have likely been a dry affair.

After all, it's not that unusual for a convict to go before the judge on a probation violation.

But the animal aspects of the case and the plain old "ew" factor, even his own attorney concedes, were hard to ignore.

Spink, who was charged with violating the terms of his probation that followed a 2005 drug-trafficking conviction, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez Friday to three years in federal prison and two years of probation.

Martinez said Spink, 39, had "blatantly done everything possible to circumvent" the conditions of his probation.

"You have used what everyone says is your substantial intelligence in order to find a way to get around the rules," Martinez said.

The judge found Spink had traveled to other states, lied to his probation officer, and broken the state's animal-cruelty laws.

However, prosecutors in Whatcom County, where Spink kept his animals, declined to file animal-cruelty charges against him, saying it was unnecessary in light of his federal prosecution.

Animal-rights activists had hoped to persuade prosecutors to file such charges, because a conviction on the state's animal-cruelty law would prohibit Spink from owning animals again, according to Laura Clark, executive director of the Whatcom Humane Society.

Spink's attorney, Howard L. Phillips, said a typical sentence for a first probation violation is four to six months.

He said Spink was sentenced more harshly because of his outspoken advocacy for the idea that zoophilia, or love between humans and animals, should be accepted as a sexual orientation and not a perversion or illness.

"He believes it's a sexual orientation and that the arguments against it are the same ones once made against homosexuality or miscegenation," said Phillips, who had argued for a four-month sentence.

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Spink was arrested in April after investigators in Tennessee contacted his probation officer and said Spink had been getting involved in the criminal proceedings against James Tait, who was in jail in Tennessee on a bestiality charge.

Tait was convicted of trespassing in the infamous 2005 Enumclaw horse-sex case in which a 45-year-old Gig Harbor man died from a perforated colon after having sex with a horse on a farm that Tait took him to without the owner's consent.

Spink contacted Tait, authorities said, because he felt Tait was being wrongly prosecuted after his Tennessee arrest and that his attorney wasn't representing him well.

When Spink's property was searched in April, according to police and prosecutors, investigators found seven large-breed dogs, four horses and 13 mice, as well as videotapes of a man having sex with Spink's dogs.

That man, a 51-year-old British national who was visiting the property near Sumas, Whatcom County, at the time of the search, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Clark said the mice had to be euthanized, but all of the dogs and horses have been saved.

All of the dogs were neutered and placed with breed-specific rescue groups, and the horses were gelded and placed with Hope for Horses. They are being rehabilitated and doing fairly well, Clark said.

Spink has denied having sex with his animals, according to his attorney.

However, in a YouTube video Spink can be seen giving a speech in which he claims that his life partner of 10 years is a horse named Capone.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com.

Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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