Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

01/26/2010 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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09:01:09 AM Start
09:02:15 AM HB6
09:36:02 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 6(JUD)am Out of Committee
                   HB   6-CRUELTY TO ANIMALS                                                                                
9:02:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MENARD  announced  consideration  of  HB  6.  [Before  the                                                               
committee was CSHB 6 (JUD) AM.]                                                                                                 
9:04:25 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER joined the meeting.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN,  sponsor of HB  6, said animal cruelty  is a                                                               
serious  concern,  but even  more  serious  is the  link  between                                                               
animal cruelty and sexual abuse  of children. Representative Lynn                                                               
explained  that this  issue came  to  his attention  a couple  of                                                               
years ago  upon reading  an article in  the Anchorage  Daily News                                                               
about a  man in Klawock who  sexually abused a dog.  There was no                                                               
state law  to prevent such  an act. The alleged  perpetrator also                                                               
had a history of child sexual assault.                                                                                          
Representative  Lynn advised  that  a  connection exists  between                                                               
animal  abuse,  domestic abuse,  child  abuse  and other  violent                                                               
crimes  and   that  35  other   states  have  outlawed   acts  of                                                               
bestiality.  Exceptions in  HB 6  allow for  accepted and  common                                                               
veterinarian and animal husbandry procedures.                                                                                   
9:07:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  informed the  committee that  several strong                                                               
letters of support  from organizations such as  the Department of                                                               
Corrections, the  Alaska Farm Bureau,  the Alaska  Peace Officers                                                               
Association and the  Humane Society, are in the  bill packets. He                                                               
said  that while  HB  6 started  out as  a  routine bill  against                                                               
animal cruelty,  the relationship  between animal  sexual assault                                                               
and  public  safety  was also  recognized  as  another  important                                                               
element of the bill.                                                                                                            
MIKE SICA, staff  to Representative Lynn, said HB 6  closes a gap                                                               
in the existing  animal cruelty statutes. An  animal is incapable                                                               
of consent; therefore bestiality does  qualify as cruelty even if                                                               
there is no  physical harm to the animal. The  type of person who                                                               
is prone to sexually  abuse an animal is prone to  do the same to                                                               
a child or vulnerable adult who is also incapable of consent.                                                                   
9:10:21 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SICA said the perpetrator in  the Klawock case was a two-time                                                               
child  sex offender.  Studies have  shown  that sexual  offenders                                                               
have  histories of  abusing  animals. As  illustrated  in an  FBI                                                               
study, the background of serial  sexual offenders includes a high                                                               
rate of animal sexual assault.  Mr. Sica said Leslie Isaacs, City                                                               
Manager of  Klawock, and  Donald Marvin,  Mayor of  Klawock, have                                                               
spoken  about the  fear that  ran through  the village  after the                                                               
The assistant  District Attorney in  Ketchikan said no  law could                                                               
be applied to the incident. In  some specific cases, such as when                                                               
the animal is killed or if sexual  abuse of the animal is tied to                                                               
domestic violence, prosecution is  possible. However, a clear law                                                               
is  needed  to  allow  prosecution  for  sexually  assaulting  an                                                               
9:12:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SICA stated that the bill  adds a 6th offense, sexual conduct                                                               
with animals,  and related offenses,  to the existing  statute. A                                                               
definition of "sexual conduct" is included.                                                                                     
SENATOR  PASKVAN questioned  the distinction  between "knowingly"                                                               
in  sub-paragraph  (6)  versus "intentionally"  in  sub-paragraph                                                               
MR.  SICA replied  that a  House Representative  wanted a  higher                                                               
threshold   for   finding   someone   guilty   of   this   crime.                                                               
"Intentionally" is a higher threshold  than "knowingly." You have                                                               
to be aware of what is going on  on your property to the point of                                                               
intentionally setting it up.                                                                                                    
SENATOR  KOOKESH  asked  if  there are  other  examples  of  this                                                               
problem in Alaska.                                                                                                              
MR.  SICA  replied that  Chava  Lee,  Executive Director  of  the                                                               
Gastineau Humane  Society, has said  she gets a handful  of cases                                                               
every year.  He said  a Ft. Wainwright  soldier was  suspected of                                                               
dog  sodomy in  July  and  another dog  was  sexually abused  and                                                               
killed near Hurricane Gulch.                                                                                                    
9:14:50 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SICA said  that  many cases  are not  known  because no  law                                                               
against animal sexual abuse exists;  more cases will arise when a                                                               
law against it is in place.                                                                                                     
SENATOR MEYER  asked if  the penalty for  sexual conduct  with an                                                               
animal is a Class C felony.                                                                                                     
MR. SICA replied that it is  a Class A misdemeanor like the other                                                               
offenses that fall under Section 1 [of HB 6, pages 1-2].                                                                        
SENATOR MEYER  noted that  he did  not see  any fiscal  notes and                                                               
asked if this was because not many cases were expected.                                                                         
MR. SICA replied that HB 6  would generate only a few extra cases                                                               
beyond regular  case loads. He  hopes that  after a case  or two,                                                               
the  message of  animal sexual  assault being  punishable by  law                                                               
will get out to the public and discourage this behavior.                                                                        
9:17:19 AM                                                                                                                    
DONALD MARVIN,  mayor of Klawock,  spoke in  support of HB  6. He                                                               
said  the  previously mentioned  case  of  animal sexual  assault                                                               
against a dog  was difficult to deal with. The  people in Klawock                                                               
were  scared by  the incident,  but without  an appropriate  law,                                                               
prosecution of the perpetrator was impossible.                                                                                  
9:18:47 AM                                                                                                                    
LESLIE ISAACS,  City Manager of  Klawock, spoke in support  of HB
6.  He recalled  some citizens  of  Klawock wanting  to find  the                                                               
perpetrator and  "render justice  in their  own way."  Mr. Isaacs                                                               
recounted  Mayor Marvin  telling these  citizens that  anyone who                                                               
went after the  perpetrator could end up in jail  rather than the                                                               
perpetrator.  Without  a law  that  could  be  put forth  by  the                                                               
District Attorney, the city officials  of Klawock had a difficult                                                               
time calming the public.                                                                                                        
9:20:51 AM                                                                                                                    
TALEA DAVIS, representing herself,  Wrangell, spoke in support of                                                               
HB 6.  Ms. Davis,  a Wrangell high  school student,  described an                                                               
incident in  which a  coffee shop owner,  going out  of business,                                                               
hired a  student to get rid  of 23 cats. The  student trapped the                                                               
cats, stomped  their heads in  and poisoned them. The  student is                                                               
still in school with Ms. Davis,  and the former coffee shop owner                                                               
is a  substitute at the school.  Ms. Davis said she  is afraid of                                                               
the student  because she  believes if a  person harmed  or killed                                                               
animals in that  manner, the person could also harm  a human. Ms.                                                               
Davis  said her  friend found  her  pet cat  to be  one of  those                                                               
killed and  dumped out the  road. She expressed the  opinion that                                                               
it is  ironic for the  state to pass  a bill making  the malamute                                                               
the state dog when there is no  law to protect the dog from abuse                                                               
or sexual assault.                                                                                                              
9:24:15 AM                                                                                                                    
RONNIE  ROSENBERG,  Chairperson,   Fairbanks  North  Star  Bureau                                                               
Animal Control  Commission, spoke  in support of  HB 6.  She said                                                               
she has  served on  the commission  for 15 years  and has  been a                                                               
shelter volunteer  for 17 years. Every  year one or two  cases of                                                               
sexual animal  abuse comes to  her attention and that,  because a                                                               
link exists  between animal abuse  and child sexual abuse,  a law                                                               
is needed that would allow troopers to pursue these cases.                                                                      
9:26:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAVA LEE, Executive Director of  the Gastineau Humane Society in                                                               
Juneau, supported HB 6.                                                                                                         
MS. LEE  read prepared  remarks. She  expressed the  opinion that                                                               
"sexual abuse of an animal  is a violent criminal act." Referring                                                               
to the incident in Klawock, she said:                                                                                           
     That community was disgusted by  the act and frightened                                                                    
     by the  consequences to their own  pets, themselves and                                                                    
     especially their  children. There  was no  small amount                                                                    
     of anger  and helplessness  generated by  the knowledge                                                                    
     that nothing  could be  done to  this person  to punish                                                                    
     him for his acts.                                                                                                          
MS.  LEE deviated  from  her prepared  remarks  and responded  to                                                               
Senator Kookesh's  earlier inquiry about examples  other than the                                                               
Klawock incident. She  said this is not a rural  or village crime                                                               
as opposed  to an  urban crime; animal  sexual abuse  happens all                                                               
across the state.                                                                                                               
MS. LEE  returned to reading  from her prepared  statement. "This                                                               
is  not a  victimless  crime. This  is an  act  committed upon  a                                                               
defenseless living creature." She  reported being involved in two                                                               
cases  of  animal  sexual  abuse.   One  revolved  around  a  man                                                               
terrorizing his  neighbor by having  sexual intercourse  with his                                                               
dog  within  her  sight  and hearing.  The  perpetrator  knew  no                                                               
charges could  be made  against him. In  another incident,  a man                                                               
threatened to hurt  his girlfriend's dog if her  children did not                                                               
do what  he wanted them  to do. After several  conversations with                                                               
one of  the children, Ms. Lee  learned that that "hurt"  meant to                                                               
have intercourse  with the dog.  The mother fled Juneau  with her                                                               
MS.  LEE said  that "in  the final  analysis, it  is ironic  that                                                               
animals have  to look  to humans  to stand  between them  and the                                                               
cruelty  and abuse  we inflict  upon them."  She said  that while                                                               
this bill may not stop cruelty, it would provide a consequence.                                                                 
9:31:50 AM                                                                                                                    
DR.  RACHEL DZUIBA,  Veterinary  Clinical  Director of  Gastineau                                                               
Humane  Society,  and owner  and  operator  of Bridge  Veterinary                                                               
Services,  spoke  in  support  of  HB  6.  She  read  a  prepared                                                               
statement.  She  felt  the  graphic   wording  of  the  bill  was                                                               
necessary  and  provided the  clarity  needed  to avoid  imposing                                                               
penalties   on   standard   veterinary,  farming   or   husbandry                                                               
practices. She expressed the opinion that:                                                                                      
     The  pattern of  aggression  and  control exhibited  by                                                                    
     humans seeking  to purport sexual acts  against animals                                                                    
     must be  recognized as a  punishable crime in  order to                                                                    
     ultimately encourage  a society  that is safer  to live                                                                    
9:34:18 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. DZUIBA said  that she has been aware of  several instances of                                                               
animal  sexual  assault  and  that these  instances  need  to  be                                                               
addressed in state law.                                                                                                         
CHAIR MENARD closed public testimony.                                                                                           
SENATOR  MEYER said  he is  not comfortable  with the  difference                                                               
between  "intentional"   and  "knowingly,"  but  would   let  the                                                               
Judiciary committee deal with the wording.                                                                                      
SENATOR PASKVAN  moved to report  CS for  HB 6, version  E.A from                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations  and attached  fiscal                                                               
note(s). Without objection CSHB 6(JUD)AM moved out of committee.                                                                
9:36:02 AM                                                                                                                    
Finding no further  business to come before  the committee, Chair                                                               
Menard adjourned the meeting at 9:36 p.m.                                                                                       

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