The eye-opener came for the Southeast community of Klawock two years ago when Harold Simpson was caught having sex with a dog.
The problem: There was no law against it, so Simpson could only be charged with criminal mischief.
"Witnesses actually saw him having sexual intercourse with the dog," said Cullen Fowler, the former Police Chief of Klawock.
"He had wrapped the dog's snout with duct tape, which did cause injury to the animal," Fowler said.
The incident led Rep. Bob Lynn to draft a bill, making it a crime to have sex with an animal.
"Many of us have heard or told jokes about bestiality, but we've learned from researching this bill that it's no laughing matter at all," Lynn, a Republican from Anchorage, said last year during a House Judiciary Committee meeting.
But during the bill's first committee hearing last year, it was clear lawmakers had a hard time taking the subject seriously.
Rep. Jay Ramras passed out animal crackers and put stuffed animals on display.
"I didn't appreciate that, but Jay has a different sense of humor I guess," Lynn said.
Lynn says he doesn't hold the jokes against Ramras and others.
"Some of the people who have laughed the loudest are the ones the most behind it now, I think," Lynn said.
"The first thing people do is they ridicule and joke. We're past that," said Mike Sica, an aide to Lynn.
The bill passed the House last year, and is now getting a serious hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"We lived a nightmare," said Klawock Mayor Don Marvin in the hearing.
"I'm a grandparent and I know my grandkids were deathly afraid to even walk out the door," Marvin said.
The bill has been an educational process for lawmakers, who have heard testimony from people in Klawock about the panic the community experienced when police could not put Harold Simpson behind bars.
Simpson was convicted of twice raping a young boy when he was 16, yet the community felt powerless to act.
"If the dog had not been available to be raped, a child could have been available to be raped," Lynn said.
The connection between violence and animal abuse is well documented.
The Juneau shelter occasionally gets calls from victims of domestic violence who have been terrorized by someone who has either threatened or performed lewd acts on pets, including a woman who was harassed by a neighbor who repeatedly had sex with a dog in his backyard.
"So she lived in terror. She finally moved. She finally sold her house and moved. I mean, it changed her life completely," said Chava Lee, executive director of the Gastineau Humane Society.
The bill would empower police to take action. So far, it's received support from the Department of Corrections and the Alaska Peace Officers' Association.
They confirm that there is a connection between violent acts against animals and people.
"The number of violent sexual predators who have had sexual relations with an animal is almost 75 percent," Lee said.
In Alaska, the prison system has begun asking inmates that question in a survey to learn more about their risks upon release.
The program is only a few years old, so there's not enough data to yet to draw conclusions, but some of the most violent sexual offenders have admitted to having sex with animals during polygraph tests.
"Somebody doesn't become a violent rapist when they're 40 years old. They started to practice that behavior ahead of time," says Rose Munafo, a criminal justice planner with the Alaska Department of Corrections.
Munafo believes it's behavior that's sometimes practiced on animals.
"You want to get good at what you do on somebody that's not going to be able to get away from you. So maybe that's a little kid. Maybe that's an animal," Munafo said.
"Oftentimes if it's a dog or a cat, or something, the muzzle is taped. They're not taping the muzzle for any reason other than they do not want to get bit," Lee said.
"Sexual crimes against animals; animals can't give their consent," Dzuiba said.
Animals are powerless to speak out, but those who support a law criminalizing sexual abuse of animals say it will help to end the silence, and make us all safer.
"These guys don't go away to jail forever and the public needs to know how to protect itself," Munafo said.
Thirty-five other states have laws against bestiality.
Lynn's bill, H.B. 6, would make it a Class A misdemeanor, on par with other animal cruelty crimes.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski has a bill, S.B. 214, which would toughen the penalties for animal cruelty.
Simpson, from Klawock, is developmentally disabled and is housed in a program in Anchorage where he is under 24-hour supervision.
He was charged with criminal mischief, which is also a misdemeanor, but Lynn says making bestiality illegal would enable the criminal justice system to be more proactive.
Contact Rhonda McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org