Zoologist Adam Britton convicted for dog torture crimes that connect to furry fandom.
by Patch O'Furr
Content warning for discussing animal and child abuse.
Adam Britton was once an internationally respected animal expert, a go-to guy for crocodile research. He worked for Charles Darwin University in Australia, National Geographic, and the BBC with famed nature documentarian David Attenborough. Then in 2022, Britton was caught for secret crime. Due to high profile, the legal process kept him anonymous to avoid undermining his trial until he pled guilty this week.
Australian news led the coverage. This is disturbing to read, and doesn’t even tell the graphic details.
Beginning in 2014, Britton became a sadistic rapist and killer of more than 42 dogs. He made videos of their torture to secretly share with an underground of fellow consumers on the internet. He also traded child abuse media, raising the level of his charges and showing the severity of animal exploitation.
“Prosecutors told the court Britton owned a shipping container on his property equipped with filming equipment and used the space “to torture, sexually exploit and kill dogs”.
Last year, police seized 44 items including computers, mobile telephones, cameras, external hard drives, tools, weapons, dog paraphernalia and sex toys.
Mr Aust [prosecutor] told the court that Britton operated a Telegram account which was used for the sole purpose of engaging in conversations with “like-minded people”, and that he used another account to upload and disseminate images and recordings of his crimes.
“Using these applications, the offender discussed his ‘kill count’ … and described the shipping container on his property as his ‘torture room’,” Mr Aust said.”
Sentencing is scheduled for December for 56 charges related to animal sex abuse (zoosadism), each with a maximum penalty of 3 years of jail. There were also 4 charges for accessing and sharing child abuse media. A close professional source told Dogpatch Press “it’s likely he’ll get the max sentence because of the egregious nature of his crimes.”
The crimes were calculated. Britton conned people who placed online ads hoping to find good homes for dogs they couldn’t keep, and led them to believe their dogs were getting good care after he killed them. He told an associate: “I can’t stop. I don’t want to” while feeding the demand of his audience.
Connection to furry fandom.
Before Britton’s trial, there was public news about the crimes that didn’t name him. The news circulated quietly among investigators and media professionals who had known him. People in both groups contacted Dogpatch Press. This led to a furry news article that connects some of this information, and adds parts only reported here so far.
During the investigation of Britton, Australian authorities tipped American law enforcement that one of his fellow traders was creating similar zoosadist videos. Ohio and Michigan resident Lucas Vanwoert faces charges on 4 counts.
- Fox 2 Detroit: Michigan truck driver made graphic dog torture videos and shared them online, feds say
Lucas Vanwoert’s connection to Britton was reported by mainstream news, but they didn’t report that Vanwoert was active in furry fandom as “Graves.” Thanks to @keroarchive for reading legal documents and making this clear.
Vanwoert’s photo from court documents and his tweet
Vanwoert exchanged over 700 files of animal abuse with Britton, and also killed dogs and traded child abuse files. The high amount of files indicates that these people were part of an underground trading network that intersects with furry fandom. Vanwoert hid in furry groups and made connections to like-minded people until his crimes became known.
Heather Vanwoert, his wife, was also charged for 12 counts of crime to animals. This reporter hasn’t learned if she was active in furry fandom with him.
These weren’t lone actors. They were feeding demand of a sub-subculture of zoophiles. Vanwoert’s X/Twitter profile is still active (NSFW content). You can see furry zoophiles following his account. It shows zero follows by him, because he deleted them around when he was arrested. But he was too slow. This reporter was tipped fast enough to view Vanwoert’s pre-established, mutual zoophile connections that he wanted to hide.
They included familiar long-time members of furry groups who use fandom to secretly meet each other, and even openly argue that animals can consent and animal abusers deserve acceptance. These zoophiles use the zeta (ζ) symbol and hashtags like #zoopride to engage with their network.
It's sad that this crime came into furry fandom, and can not be ignored, because Vanwoert wasn't alone. He wasn't just networking with Adam Britton, but also with a sub-subculture of zoophiles. Vanwoert's profile is still active and you can see some following him. pic.twitter.com/Gnqq18LlFl
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 26, 2023
Three problems of zoophile infiltration.
All communities have some crime and abuse. The important part is how to respond. A substantial response starts with naming problems and saying what the community is for, not hiding things with denial about what it isn’t. Many furries are there for art, and say animals can’t consent and they don’t tolerate zoophiles. But that alone doesn’t stop zoophiles from riding their (coat) tails and reaching for acceptance.
This leads to…
PROBLEM 1: Size and network effect. This zoophile furry group on Telegram has 1000+ members, and they have had a group that large since at least 2017. It justifies itself by claiming to oppose abuse, while splitting hairs about different kinds of abuse and redefining some as consent. Arguing that animals can consent inherently enables abuse, when there are no zoophile networks that don’t make demand for it between members.
Nuance: The size is significant, but this isn’t ammunition against furries itself, because it doesn’t prove there is higher frequency of this in fandom compared to the population outside. Reliable data must be hard to get, but it could be equal to latent frequency anywhere. Look at the classic 1948 book by Alfred Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy and Clyde Martin, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Research found that between 8-50 percent of all American men in their sample groups claimed to have crossed the species line at some point (depending on farm proximity). Of course, latency is not openly organized with network effect.
If a 1000+ member “zoofur” group doesn’t prove frequency, and furry fans can deny guilt by association — what does the size show?
Opportunity. Try to name another group that 1000+ zoophiles use as cover to organize inside for acceptance, whether the cover group approves or not.
https://t.co/uoTmGzC1A0 has survey data from conventions, i would venture to say it must be hard to measure objectively but there may not be incidence different from the general pop. Maybe the issue isn't frequency but ability to organize by internet, using shelter of subculture.
— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) September 27, 2023
PROBLEM 2: Corruption. Abuse scandals, like in the Catholic Church or Boy Scouts, happen when abusers bounce from place to place and keep abusing. Close watchers inside furry fandom can see problem people bounce from group to group with little organized opposition.
That isn’t just enabled by internet platforms and weak security when it also has permission from high places:
- Whistleblowers who chaired the Further Confusion furry convention faced staff threats to walk out if zoophiles were banned.
- This corroborated a 2019 Dogpatch Press story where the same staffers acted to cover up zoophile friends.
How high does corruption go? Look no higher than the longest existing furry convention, Eurofurence in Germany, and its single chairman since 1997. This person of social influence uses it to defend zoophilia by attacking “bigots” with whataboutism rhetoric — as if a vegan diet is required to oppose animal sex abuse — or as if they are a vegan convention with purity and superiority to backlash at concerns about abuse. Meanwhile…
- The chair of Eurofurence shared group modding with, and defended zoophilia to a zoosadist (the same zoosadist that con staff acted to cover up in 2019.)
- The whataboutism defense either echoes or derives from zoophile political lobbying. Germany has one of the world’s only zoophile political lobby groups.
- German law bans nazi propaganda. The chair of Eurofurence followed this commendable policy by officially approving “nazi furs fuck off” messages one year; but zoophiles are welcome, and this is the hypocrisy and insanity at the highest level.
- The head of security for Eurofurence labeled himself with a zoophile Zeta (ζ) and calls it a “sexual preference“.
PROBLEM 3: Limited power and consequences. Convictions of offenders as extreme as Britton and Vanwoert are rare. For animal crimes, victims can’t tell, human ones get priority, and local police are too busy or can’t go out of jurisdiction for internet crime. Charges are commonly dropped. State laws are “often poorly equipped to accomplish meaningful convictions” according to The Animal Legal Defense Fund, while for federal authorities, it’s often beneath their radar and left to states. This is slowly changing but it’s a big loophole where animal abuse networks stay outside justice.
As a result, saying “call the police” can be no better than punting the ball to nowhere. Sometimes it’s deliberate. “We can’t judge before a conviction” — gets flipped after a conviction to — “we can’t judge someone who paid the price”, meaning organizers are sitting on their hands. Even if the price paid was a tiny slap on the wrist for a repeat offender who did far more crime and the issue isn’t about banning but about extending privileges.
Nuance: Legal liability limits how conventions can ban people, because it sets a precedent that can get them sued for not banning someone else they aren’t aware of. Read that again until it makes sense. General screening or banning by conventions is not the point.
The points are:
- Zoophile network members are all complicit with raising demand for abuse.
- This abuse is unlikely to get solved by police, or it will just get weak consequences on single members.
- The issue isn’t about catching single members, but undoing networks.
- We don’t own most internet platforms that let abusers bounce from group to group.
- That’s not just a problem for one weekend conventions, but for 365 days a year.
- Even with these limits, police don’t run groups, YOU run them and can do something inside.
It can come down to choices of who and how you pay, trust, support, or make people aware. That can mean choosing who gets privileges of being a con dealer, guest of honor, accepted on staff, or simply who is welcome to be friends. None of those are asking cons to ban people. Opposing abuser networks can start personally and locally, and the next Britton and Vanwoert can have one less place to meet.
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