House Passes Bill to Make Animal Cruelty and Torture a Federal Offense

This week, animal lovers are celebrating.

The House of Representatives passed a bill to make animal cruelty a federal crime. Called The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or (PACT), the law will make it a federal crime to cause intentional harm to an animal, including if an animal is “crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury.”

Sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), PACT looks to strengthen a previous law, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which crazily enough, only punished a person for the creation and distribution of animal abuse. The actual act of abusing an animal was not included in the law.

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“Today’s vote is a significant milestone in the bipartisan quest to end animal abuse and protect our pets,” Deutch said in a statement. “This bill sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals.”

Animal welfare organizations applauded the law.

“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,” Sara Amundson, the president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said. “Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials will finally have the tools they need to bring those responsible for cruelty to animals to justice.”

PACT will now be part of a handful of federal laws to protect animals, including the Animal Welfare Act, which makes animal fighting illegal. The law will not interfere or override state and local laws.

PACT still needs to pass in the Senate, but it has already supported the bill in previous sessions.

“I look forward to the Senate’s swift passage and the President’s signature,” Deutch said.

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