New Law Makes Pet Cruelty a Felony
President Trump just signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, which gives federal law enforcement agencies the power to prosecute extreme animal cruelty such as crushing, burning and drowning pets. When these abuses occur within federal jurisdiction or if they involve the transportation of animals across state lines, prosecutors will be able to bring federal felony charges.
PACT also closes a major loophole posed by the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which was enacted in 2010. This legislation bans the production, dissemination and sale of videos that depict horrible acts of animal cruelty. However, federal law enforcement could not take action unless a video was made of the abuse. Now with PACT, a video does not have to be made of the crimes and if the internet is used at all concerning the abuse, it can be considered a felony.
"PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level,” wrote Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States in a statement. “The approval of this measure by the Congress and the president marks a new era in the codification of kindness to animals within federal law.”
PACT was backed by bipartisan sponsorship. It was passed twice unanimously in the Senate, but was repeatedly blocked from coming to the House floor by former House Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. In October, the bill was finally passed unanimously by the House.
Advocates for animal welfare said federal legislation was important to put in place despite the fact that every state already has laws that make animal cruelty a crime. Federal legislation will now make it easier to prosecute animal cruelty that occurs in multiple states.
Violating PACT can include a fine and/or a prison term of up to seven years.