OLDSMAR — A 21-year-old man is accusing of sexually assaulting his pet Siberian Husky, deputies said, and sharing video and images of the assault online.
Christian Stewart Oscar Nichols was arrested Monday in a case that the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said involves two psychological disorders. Zoophilia is a disorder involving sexual attraction to animals. Zoosadism is pleasure derived from cruelty to animals.
The investigation started Jan. 25 when someone from another state contacted Pinellas County Animal Services about video and photographs posted on the internet of a man sexually assaulting a dog while wearing a black-and-white Husky dog costume.
The dog in the video was clearly in distress, deputies said, and at one point tried to run away from Nichols. Animal services staffers then notified the Sheriff's Office about the allegations.
Detectives tracked the video and photos to Nichols. They visited him at his home in Oldsmar, according to the Sheriff's Office, where Nichols admitted to producing the video and then sharing it online through the messaging app Telegram.
"Mr. Nichols was in a few different chat rooms with others who had interest in zoosadism and zoophilia," said sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Gross. "That's how he transferred the video to someone he'd been chatting with."
Nichols was arrested Monday on a single charge, aggravated animal cruelty. Then on Tuesday, detectives tacked on 10 counts of transmitting prohibited obscene or lewd material, a misdemeanor.
He was being held in the Pinellas County jail in lieu of $10,000 bail. Records show Nichols has no previous arrests in Florida.
Nichols lives with a relative. Deputies removed the Siberian Husky that Nichols is accused of abusing, and a chihuahua whom they do not believe was victimized. Both dogs are now in the care of animal services.
"They appear to be in good health and spirits," said field services manager James McGill. But officials there have not yet decided if those dogs should be put up for adoption or otherwise re-homed.
The investigation is continuing, Gross said, and more charges could be filed.
"There's a lot more evidence they're combing through and it could take at least another month to get through everything he's got," the sergeant said.
Contact Tony Marrero at email@example.com or (813) 266-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.