Ethics/Welfare

U.S. Senate Passes Bill Making Animal Cruelty a Federal Crime

U.S. Senate Passes Bill Making Animal Cruelty a Federal Crime
The Senate unanimously passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act two weeks after the House passed it on a voice vote. If signed into law, it would make the torture of animals a federal felony punishable by fines and up to seven years in prison. The bill now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature. Photo: Ileana Bt/Shutterstock.com
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Animal Wellness Foundation Press Release – The U.S. Senate passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act — which would make the torture of animals a federal felony punishable by fines and up to seven years in prison — by unanimous consent on Nov. 5th. The bill, sponsored by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would establish the first federal anti-animal-cruelty law. The House of Representatives passed the same bill, sponsored by Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), on Oct. 23rd. The bipartisan bill is now on the desk of President Trump for his signature.

“The U.S. is far overdue to establish a federal anti-cruelty law,” said Holly Gann, director of federal affairs at Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation. “We as a nation should have no tolerance for animal abuse, and the PACT Act will allow federal authorities to stop heinous crimes when they occur on the federal level. We applaud Senators Toomey and Blumenthal for their tremendous work to shepherd this bill to passage in the Senate.”

The bill would expand a 2010 law that made creation or distribution of so-called “animal crushing” videos illegal. Current federal law prohibits animal fighting and only criminalizes animal cruelty if the wrongdoers create and sell videos depicting the act. The new bill would make the underlying acts of cruelty a federal crime.

“Passing this legislation is a major victory in the effort to stop animal cruelty and make our communities safer,” said U.S. Senator Pat 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. Finally getting the PACT Act through Congress would not have been possible without the hard work of many. In particular, I thank Senator Blumenthal and animal advocacy organizations for partnering with me on this bill and now look forward to President Trump signing the PACT Act into law.”

The PACT Act would prohibit extreme acts of cruelty when they occur in interstate commerce or on federal property and cracks down on widespread sexual abuse of animals (bestiality). Law enforcement agencies across the country and the Animal Wellness National Law Enforcement Council have endorsed the PACT Act because of the well-documented connection between animal cruelty and violence against people.

“There’s no place in a civilized society for maiming and torturing animals — period. I’m grateful to Sen. Toomey for his leadership, and glad that the PACT Act is finally becoming law,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

The bill had tremendous support with 302 cosponsors in the House and 41 in the Senate. The Senate bill previously passed the Senate by unanimous consent in the 114th and 115th Congress, but it was blocked in the House at that time by former House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) despite overwhelming bipartisan support.

“This measure fills a gaping hole in the federal legal framework against malicious animal cruelty,” said Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action, who first proposed the original concept of the PACT Act five years ago. “It shouldn’t take this many years to create prohibitions on malicious cruelty on federal property or in interstate commerce, but it’s thrilling that the measure may soon become law.”

The PACT Act has been endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, the National Sheriffs Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

The organizations now urge the President to sign the bill to make it law.

Learn More

Read about the results of our Facebook poll “Have You Ever Suspected a Pet Owner of Animal Abuse?”

Read: Animal Cruelty — Your Role in Identifying Abuse

Visit the Animal Ethics & Welfare section of our website.

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