You might think that’s just a joke in poor taste, but the 800 people who live in Klawock, Alaska found out that there was little the police could do to punish a registered sex offender who witnesses say lured a local family’s dog into the woods near a ball field, tied it to a tree, duct taped its muzzle shut and had sex with it.
Alaska is one of 15 states where sexual activity with animals is not explicitly prohibited. Previously, such cases could be prosecuted under sodomy laws in many states but a 2003 Supreme Court decision struck down the last of those laws that were more frequently applied to homosexual activity.
The dog that was allegedly assaulted did not require veterinary care but appeared to have suffered physically and psychologically. Lacking any other statute under which he could charge the man, the District Attorney first charged him with two counts of criminal mischief, which was later changed to a theft charge.
Last week Alaska’s House Judiciary Committee heard testimony that would expand the state’s animal cruelty law to include sexual conduct, making bestiality a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. The bill has the support of an unlikely coalition that includes the Department of Corrections, the Alaska Farm Bureau, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Alaska Peace Officers Association.
Florida is also considering a bill that would make sex with animals punishable by up to five years in prison. Tennessee banned the practice in 2007, following Arizona and Washington state in 2006. All three did so following high profile and disturbing bestial acts that they were unable to vigorously prosecute.
The laws are intended not just to protect defenseless animals but also the public. The Humane Society says that studies have shown a strong link between the sexual assault of animals and sex crimes against humans.
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