A bipartisan bill that makes animal cruelty a federal crime has passed Congress, and the president signed it into law today.
The Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act is a federal ban on animal cruelty, outlawing purposeful crushing, burning, drowning, suffocation, impalement or other violence causing serious bodily injury to animals. Those convicted would face federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison.
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Senator Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania, sponsored the new, bipartisan bill with Senator Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut.
“Passing this legislation is a major victory in the effort to stop animal cruelty and make our communities safe,” said Sen. Toomey. “Evidence shows that the deranged individuals who harm animals often move on to committing acts of violence against people. It is appropriate that the federal government have strong animal cruelty laws and penalties.”
The bill expands on a 2010 law signed by President Obama, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which was limited only to the production, marketing, and sales of so-called “crush videos” depicting people (mostly women) crushing animals to death.
A fact sheet of the bill confirmed it is now a federal felony for “any person to intentionally engage in animal crushing if the animals or animal crushing is, substantially affects, or uses a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce.”
This ultimately means the underlying acts of animal cruelty behind the so-called “crush videos” are themselves the crime.
Obama’s version omitted this inclusion, focusing only on the videos themselves rather than animal cruelty. Guilty parties will now face federal felony charges, fines, and a prison sentence of up to 7 years upon conviction.
Representative Ted Deutch, of Florida, was responsible for introducing the new PACT bill to the House, together with Representative Vern Buchanan, also of Florida, in a bipartisan move.