Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 120

02/26/2010 01:00 PM House JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 138(JUD) Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 331(JUD) Out of Committee
                  HB 138 - CRUELTY TO ANIMALS                                                                               
[Contains brief mention  that Version T of HB 138  would act as a                                                               
House companion bill to SB 214,  and that the provisions of those                                                               
two  bills   along  with  the   provisions  of  HB  6   might  be                                                               
incorporated into a single vehicle.]                                                                                            
2:07:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  138, "An  Act relating  to cruelty  to animals."                                                               
[Before the committee was the  proposed committee substitute (CS)                                                               
for  HB 138,  Version 26-LS0351\P,  Luckhaupt, 4/2/09,  which had                                                               
been adopted as the work draft on 4/8/09.]                                                                                      
2:07:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  moved to  adopt the  proposed committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for  HB 138,  Version  26-LS0531\T,  Luckhaupt,                                                               
2/4/10, as the work draft.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON objected.                                                                                                 
2:08:38 PM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS  REIKER, Staff,  Representative Carl  Gatto, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  on behalf  of  the  sponsor, Representative  Gatto,                                                               
explained that  Version T would  bring HB  138 in line  with, and                                                               
make it a  house companion bill to, SB 214,  sponsored by Senator                                                               
Wielechowski.   He  indicated that  under Version  T, killing  an                                                               
animal through the  use of poison or a  decompression chamber, or                                                               
knowingly  inflicting  severe  and  prolonged  physical  pain  or                                                               
suffering would  be a class  C felony;  and, for a  first offense                                                               
within  10  years,  negligently   causing  the  death  or  severe                                                               
physical pain or prolonged suffering  of an animal, or killing or                                                               
injuring an  animal] with the  intent to intimidate  or terrorize                                                               
another  person would  be class  A  misdemeanor.   He noted  that                                                               
Version T no  longer proposes to establish the  crimes of cruelty                                                               
to animals  in the  first degree  and cruelty  to animals  in the                                                               
second degree.                                                                                                                  
2:10:22 PM                                                                                                                    
KRIS  SELL, Lieutenant,  Juneau Police  Department (JPD),  City &                                                               
Borough  of  Juneau  (CBJ); President,  Capital  City  Chapter  -                                                               
Juneau, Alaska  Peace Officers  Association (APOA),  relayed that                                                               
on  behalf of  the  JPD, the  CBJ,  and the  APOA,  she would  be                                                               
speaking  in support  of the  increased penalties  for crimes  of                                                               
cruelty to  animals as proposed  via HB 138.   At 8:56  a.m. this                                                               
morning,  she recounted,  the JPD  received a  call from  a woman                                                               
asking  for help  because  her husband  verbally  abuses her  and                                                               
physically  abuses her  dog; the  police report  stated that  the                                                               
husband kicks the dog and locks  it in the bathroom for days, and                                                               
that  two days  ago, the  husband  told his  wife that  he had  a                                                               
bullet  for  the dog.    The  woman  was uncooperative  with  the                                                               
investigation, however,  because she didn't have  any other place                                                               
to go  where she  could also  take her  dog.   Under HB  138, the                                                               
officers  could have  investigated  this incident  as laying  the                                                               
groundwork  for   a  felony  charge   in  the  future   when  the                                                               
perpetrator's behavior escalated.                                                                                               
LIEUTENANT  SELL  recounted  that  she'd  once  worked  a  serial                                                               
domestic violence (DV)  case involving a man who  was beating his                                                               
wife and  terrorizing his  children.  During  one assault  on his                                                               
family, the  man was raging  at his  wife when his  attention was                                                               
drawn to the  family's pet bird because it was  making noise, and                                                               
so, wanting  to show  his family that  when he  talked, everybody                                                               
had to be  quiet, he grabbed the  bird out if its  cage and threw                                                               
it  against the  wall, breaking  its wing.   At  trial, the  jury                                                               
members were sickened by the  man's behavior; even without having                                                               
been  shown  any studies  illustrating  the  link between  animal                                                               
abuse and DV, the jurors  knew intuitively, as would most people,                                                               
that  a man  who  would abuse  a helpless  animal  would have  no                                                               
boundaries preventing  him from abusing people.   The perpetrator                                                               
in  this  incident,  however,   didn't  receive  any  significant                                                               
consequences for harming the bird, but  had HB 138 been in place,                                                               
his actions might have warranted more jail time than he did get.                                                                
LIEUTENANT SELL pointed out that  a lot of studies illustrate the                                                               
link between animal abuse and DV  and other violent crimes - it's                                                               
just a known  fact in her line  of work - but what  sticks in her                                                               
mind, she  relayed, is  a case  involving a  large angry  man who                                                               
would use anything  within his reach to terrorize his  family - a                                                               
very  small woman  and her  two young  daughters.   Equally well-                                                               
documented is  the link  between children  and teens  involved in                                                               
animal  abuse and  how  such people  then continue  to  go on  to                                                               
commit  violence  against  people,  including  committing  serial                                                               
murder.   Some  cited  examples of  such  people include  Jeffrey                                                               
Dahmer; Albert DeSalvo  - the Boston Strangler;  and Dennis Rader                                                               
- the BTK  killer.  A 1999 article in  the Boston Globe described                                                               
how  Eric  Harris  and  Dylan   Klebold  -  responsible  for  the                                                               
Columbine High School  massacre in which twelve  students and one                                                               
teacher were killed and 21 other  students were injured - used to                                                               
horrify their classmates with descriptions  of how they mutilated                                                               
animals, and how the two  boys, during the massacre, taunted many                                                               
of their victims before they shot them.                                                                                         
LIEUTENANT  SELL,  in conclusion,  proffered  that  if crimes  of                                                               
cruelty  to animals  were taken  more seriously,  perhaps someone                                                               
would have followed up on  the animal torture incidents described                                                               
by Eric  Harris and Dylan  Klebold, and maybe the  massacre could                                                               
have been  avoided.  In response  to a question, she  pointed out                                                               
that  when  someone abuses  an  animal  in order  to  intimidate,                                                               
threaten,  or terrorize  another person  - as  outlined under  AS                                                               
11.61.140(a)(5) - it's  a form of domestic violence.   The animal                                                               
being  hurt  or killed  in  such  situations  is not  really  the                                                               
intended target -  the animal and the damage inflicted  on it are                                                               
simply  being used  to  control the  perpetrator's  family.   For                                                               
example, a  DV perpetrator will kill  the family dog in  front of                                                               
the children in order to keep  them in line.  The law enforcement                                                               
community, she assured the committee,  understands the nuances of                                                               
pets being used as tools to  terrorize people.  Again, the intent                                                               
of  the perpetrators  in  such situations  is  much greater  than                                                               
simply targeting an animal for abuse.                                                                                           
2:16:35 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. REIKER indicated that Version  T maintains existing statutory                                                               
proportionality  with regard  to  abusive  actions taken  against                                                               
animals, and abusive  actions taken against people,  and that the                                                               
intent is to  stop people from escalating  their abusive behavior                                                               
then towards other people.   In response to questions, he assured                                                               
the  committee  that  existing statute  provides  exemptions  for                                                               
accepted  veterinary practices  and  animal husbandry  practices,                                                               
dog  mushing and  pulling contests,  rodeos  and stock  contests;                                                               
that Version T  would not be amending those  exemptions; and that                                                               
someone   could  still   choose  to   euthanize  an   ill  animal                                                               
himself/herself as long  as he/she could show, if  a complaint is                                                               
filed, that the  animal was sick and that it  didn't suffer while                                                               
being   euthanized.     He  relayed   that  the   sponsor  worked                                                               
extensively with the Alaska Farm  Bureau to address its concerns,                                                               
and that the  Alaska Farm Bureau now supports both  HB 138 and SB
MR.  REIKER,  in  response  to   questions,  indicated  that  the                                                               
sponsors  of   HB  138,  SB   214,  and  HB  6   are  considering                                                               
incorporating the  provisions of  all three  bills into  a single                                                               
vehicle.   In response  to questions  regarding an  incident that                                                               
occurred recently in Houston, Alaska,  he indicated that existing                                                               
statute addressing the act of  coercing someone to commit a crime                                                               
would  also address  those instances  wherein  someone abuses  an                                                               
animal  at the  direction of  another person,  though the  courts                                                               
would have to make that determination on a case-by-case basis.                                                                  
LIEUTENANT SELL,  in response to further  questions and comments,                                                               
noted that officers often put  down animals that are injured, but                                                               
that if someone  is coerced into abusing/killing  an animal, then                                                               
the culpability would  lie with the instigator,  and the existing                                                               
statutes regarding  the crime of contributing  to the delinquency                                                               
of a minor could be used  instead of HB 138 to address situations                                                               
in which  the instigator is an  adult and the person  who commits                                                               
the crime of cruelty to animals is a minor.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG,   in  response   to  comments   and  a                                                               
question,  indicated that  a forthcoming  amendment [which  later                                                               
became  known as  Amendment 1,  would make  certain instances  of                                                               
animal abuse eligible for an aggravating factor at sentencing].                                                                 
2:31:35 PM                                                                                                                    
KAYLA   EPSTEIN,   Member,   Animal   Control   Advisory   Board,                                                               
Municipality of Anchorage (MOA),  relayed that the Animal Control                                                               
Advisory Board  unanimously voted in favor  of HB 138.   She went                                                               
on to  remark that  there is  a very  close tie  between domestic                                                               
violence and sexual  abuse of children, and animal  abuse.  Those                                                               
who sexually abuse  children will threaten to kill  or hurt their                                                               
victims' pets in order to  ensure their victims' silence, and the                                                               
abuse  of animals  is  used  as an  aid  by  the perpetrators  of                                                               
domestic  violence   and  of  sexual   [abuse  of   children]  to                                                               
demonstrate  power  and  control  over their  human  victims,  to                                                               
punish them,  to isolate  them, to  perpetuate an  environment of                                                               
fear,  to prevent  them  from  leaving, or  to  coerce them  into                                                               
coming  back.   She noted  that  71 percent  of pet-owning  women                                                               
entering  shelters  have  reported   that  their  batterers  have                                                               
injured, maimed,  killed, or threatened family  pets specifically                                                               
for revenge or for psychological  control, and that 25 percent of                                                               
abused women stay  in an abusive situation because  of threats to                                                               
their animals - whether they are livestock or personal pets.                                                                    
MS. EPSTEIN  relayed that in  homes where  a spouse is  abused, a                                                               
child is  twice as likely  to be abused  if there is  also animal                                                               
abuse occurring.   In  some states,  animal control  officers and                                                               
those who  investigate cases of  DV are cross-trained  because of                                                               
the [known] link between the crimes  of DV and animal abuse.  She                                                               
mentioned that  she's heard of  cases wherein perpetrators  of DV                                                               
have  been   convicted  of  their  assaultive   behavior  against                                                               
animals, though  not for their assaultive  behavior against their                                                               
human victims,  because their human victims  were finally willing                                                               
to  testify against  them  for the  animal  abuse.   Furthermore,                                                               
children reluctant to testify about  their own abuse will testify                                                               
about the abuse of an animal that they feel responsible for.                                                                    
MS. EPSTEIN, pointing out that  healthy animals are regularly put                                                               
down simply because they aren't  wanted, said she doesn't see how                                                               
the bill  could be used  against anyone  who puts down  an animal                                                               
that is already in "an animal control situation."                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   declared  a  potential   conflict  of                                                               
interest  in that  Ms.  Epstein  is his  wife,  and  asked to  be                                                               
excused [from voting].                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM   and  REPRESENTATIVE   LYNN  objected,                                                               
thereby  requiring Representative  Gruenberg  to participate  [in                                                               
any voting that takes place].                                                                                                   
2:37:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SANDY   SAMANIEGO,  Executive   Director,  Council   on  Domestic                                                               
Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA),  Department of Public Safety                                                               
(DPS), stated that the CDVSA supports  the intent of HB 138.  She                                                               
added that  a person  can't work at  a domestic  violence shelter                                                               
for very  long without hearing  stories illustrating  that animal                                                               
abuse is used to control DV victims.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG  again   noted   that  a   forthcoming                                                               
amendment would  provide for an aggravating  factor at sentencing                                                               
for those  who have a history  of animal abuse and  are convicted                                                               
of a felony.                                                                                                                    
2:39:32 PM                                                                                                                    
RODNEY   DIAL,  Lieutenant,   Deputy  Commander,   A  Detachment,                                                               
Division of  Alaska State Troopers,  Department of  Public Safety                                                               
(DPS), pointed  out that  in addition to  charging an  adult with                                                               
the  crime of  contributing  to  the delinquency  of  a minor  if                                                               
he/she directs,  encourages, or coerces  a minor into  harming an                                                               
animal,  the adult  could also  potentially be  charged with  the                                                               
crime of solicitation or the crime of coercion.                                                                                 
CHAIR  RAMRAS, after  ascertaining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 138.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON  removed his  objection to the  adoption of                                                               
Version T as  the work draft.  There being  no further objection,                                                               
Version T was before the committee.                                                                                             
2:41:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG made  a  motion to  adopt Amendment  1,                                                               
labeled 26-LS0351\T.1, Luckhaupt, 2/26/10, which read:                                                                          
     Page 1, line 1, following "animals":                                                                                     
          Insert "; and relating to aggravating factors at                                                                    
     sentencing  involving assaultive  behavior and  cruelty                                                                  
     to animals;"                                                                                                             
     Page 2, following line 12:                                                                                                 
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
        "* Sec. 3. AS 12.55.155(c)(8) is amended to read:                                                                   
               (8)  the defendant's prior criminal history                                                                      
     includes   conduct   involving  aggravated   assaultive                                                                    
     behavior,   [OR]  repeated   instances  of   assaultive                                                                
     behavior,  repeated  instances  of cruelty  to  animals                                                                
     proscribed under  AS 11.61.140(a)(1) and (3) -  (5), or                                                                
     a  combination of  assaultive behavior  and cruelty  to                                                                
     animals proscribed  under AS 11.61.140(a)(1) and  (3) -                                                                
     (5);   in   this  paragraph,   "aggravated   assaultive                                                                
     behavior"  means   assault  that  is  a   felony  under                                                                    
     AS 11.41,   or   a   similar   provision   in   another                                                                    
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                           
     Page 2, line 16, following the first occurrence of                                                                         
          Insert ", and to aggravating factors at                                                                               
     sentencing under  AS 12.55.155(c)(8) made by sec.  3 of                                                                    
     this Act"                                                                                                                  
CHAIR RAMRAS,  after ascertaining that there  were no objections,                                                               
announced that Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                         
2:41:53 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN said  he supports HB 138 because  he views it                                                               
as   providing   an   appropriate    punishment   for   all   the                                                               
damaged/sick/sadistic  people who  violently  abuse animals,  and                                                               
characterized  such  behavior  as   spring  training  for  future                                                               
egregious crimes  against humans.   People like this,  he opined,                                                               
need  more than  just  a slap  on the  hand;  instead, they  need                                                               
handcuffs  on their  wrists.   Certain of  the egregious  acts of                                                               
animal cruelty that HB 138 addresses  rise to a level that speaks                                                               
more  about the  perpetrator than  they  do about  the victim  or                                                               
property  destroyed.   He said  that  he sees  egregious acts  of                                                               
animal  abuse  as   a  "stair-step  kind  of   crime,"  with  the                                                               
perpetrators being on the threshold  of committing serious crimes                                                               
against   children  and   other  humans.     In   conclusion,  he                                                               
characterized HB 138  as a good bill that he  intends to support,                                                               
and opined that HB 138 compliments  HB 6 - a bill [he introduced]                                                               
that addresses the crime of bestiality.                                                                                         
2:43:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM moved  to  report the  proposed CS  for                                                               
HB 138, Version  26-LS0531\T, Luckhaupt, 2/4/10, as  amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying  fiscal  notes.   There  being  no  objection,  CSHB
138(JUD)  was   reported  from   the  House   Judiciary  Standing                                                               
TIANA PETERSON  said she respects HB  138, and that she  has been                                                               
opposed  to  animal cruelty  ever  since  she can  remember,  and                                                               
indicated  that  her mother,  aunt,  and  grandmother [work  with                                                               
[CSHB 138(JUD) was reported from committee.]                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 hearing request HB 138.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
02 HB138 Sponsor Statement 2.5.10.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
03 HB138 version S.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
04 HB138 Bill CS v. T.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
05 explanation of changes from original HB 138.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
06 HB138-LAW-CRIM-02-12-10.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
07 HB138 DOC FN.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
08 HB138 Support.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 138
09 AS 11 61 140.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
01 HB323 HJUD Hearing request.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 323
02 HB323 Bill v. A.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 323
03 HB323 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 323
04 HB323-ACS-02-03-10.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 323
05 HB323-AJC-AJC-2-8-10.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 323
01 HB52 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 52
02 HB52 Bill v. A.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 52
03 HB52-CT-FN.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 52
04 HB52 Support.pdf HJUD 2/26/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 52