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April 19, 2010

The HSUS Applauds Alaska Legislature for Passing Felony Animal Cruelty Bill

Group urges Gov. Parnell to sign H.B. 6 into law

The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, praises Alaska state lawmakers for passing legislation Saturday that will make the most egregious acts of cruelty to animals a felony on the first offense, and also will prohibit the sexual abuse of animals. Alaska is currently the only state in the nation that allows felony-level penalties for animal cruelty only on the third offense, and this legislation represents a much-needed upgrade to the state's anti-cruelty law.

H.B. 6, sponsored by Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, was introduced on the heels of several high-profile cases of bestiality in Alaska. As originally drafted, H.B. 6 prohibited the sexual abuse of an animal, photographing or filming sexual conduct with an animal, and causing another person to engage in sexual abuse of an animal. H.B. 6 was amended to include language introduced by Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, and Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, which will make egregious acts of animal cruelty a felony on the first offense. Passage of this legislation is the culmination of a multi-year effort by lawmakers in Alaska to impose felony-level penalties for the worst forms of animal abuse the first time a perpetrator is convicted.

"We congratulate Representative Lynn, Senator Wielechowski, Representative Gatto, and all of the members of the Alaska legislature, for their unwavering efforts to strengthen Alaska's animal cruelty laws," said Michael Markarian, The HSUS' chief operating officer. "Perpetrators of animal cruelty are a threat, not only to animals, but also to our communities, and we urge Governor Parnell to quickly sign H.B. 6 into law." 

Facts: 

  • Felony animal cruelty laws exist in 46 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
  • States without felony animal cruelty provisions are Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota.
  • Animal cruelty is linked to violence against people. Violent criminals frequently have histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty.
  • Research has shown consistent patterns of animal cruelty among perpetrators of common forms of violence, including sex crimes, child abuse, spousal abuse and elder abuse.
  • The HSUS has been a leader in advocating for felony animal cruelty laws. Of the 46 states and territories with such provisions, 42 laws were enacted since 1986.
  • The HSUS has 18,913 members and supporters in Alaska, or about one in every 37 Alaskans.

For more information on animal cruelty and fighting, visit humanesociety.org/acf.  

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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