The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would make animal cruelty a federal felony. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT Act, bans abusive behavior including crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling and other bodily injury toward any non-humans.
The bill was introduced by two Florida congressmen, Democrat Ted Deutch and Republican Vern Buchanan, in January. It was approved Tuesday by a voice vote.
The PACT Act expands the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which was passed by Congress in 2010 and made the creation and distribution of animal crushing videos illegal. However, the new act closes a loophole by prohibiting the underlying acts of animal abuse, according to the office of Congressman Deutch.
“There’s no place in a civilized society for maiming and torturing animals – period,” said Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who is a co-sponsor of the Senate bill. Current federal law prohibits animal fighting and only criminalizes animal cruelty if the wrongdoers create and sell videos depicting the act. Under the PACT Act, a person can be prosecuted for crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals and sexually exploiting them. Those convicted would face federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison.”I’m glad Congress is finally sending the PACT Act to the President’s desk to be signed into law,” Blumenthal said.Right now, all 50 states have laws in their books against animal cruelty on the state level. If President Trump signs the bill, authorities can go after the wrongdoers because they will have federal jurisdiction and will not be bound by state laws. They can also prosecute criminals if the cruelty occurs on federal property.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund called Tuesday’s Senate vote a well-deserved victory. “We’ve made the case for this measure for many years, and view it as one of the largest victories for animals in a long time,” President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States Kitty Block said. She went on “Over the course of 30 years in animal protection, I have encountered terrible animal cruelties, but acts of intentional torture are the most disturbing because they demonstrate how some people treat the most vulnerable in our society,” . “Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla) are tremendous advocates for animal protection, and we thank them for their leadership in closing this important gap in the law.”
The bill has been endorsed by the National Sheriffs Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.