Reintroduced Bill Seeks to Make Malicious Animal Cruelty a Federal Felony

The bipartisan bill has passed the Senate twice but has yet to pass the U.S. House of Representatives

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The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act was recently reintroduced to Congress in an effort to secure more protection for animals — and harsher punishments for those who hurt them.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida Congressmen Rep. Ted Deutch, D-West Boca, and Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, reintroduced the bipartisan bill in an effort to make sexually exploiting, “crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals” felonies under federal law.

This designation would mean those convicted of these acts of animal cruelty could get up to seven years in prison.

“All 50 states have felony penalties for malicious cruelty to animals, but states cannot prohibit cruelty that occurs in interstate commerce or across state lines. We need to ensure that we have a federal anti-cruelty statute to prevent such horrid conduct,” Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund, told PEOPLE.

If passed, this bill would also close the loophole left behind by 2010’s Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act. This law banned the creation and distribution of “crush videos.”

“In so-called ‘crush videos,’ individuals viciously torture, mutilate, and kill small animals to satisfy the bizarre fetishes of viewers,” Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) wrote about the cruel trend that is now a federal felony.

“[Introducing this bill] was a crucial step to take. However, that law does not cover the underlying acts of animal cruelty themselves, which are generally offenses under state law subject to prosecution by the states. However, since it isn’t always known where the actual acts of cruelty took place, it can be hard to bring a case under state law,” AWI added.

The (PACT) Act has passed the Senate twice, but has yet to pass the U.S. House of Representative. The bill’s numerous supporters are confident this reintroduction will lead to law.

“We have highly motivated bill sponsors who anticipate early movement due to its strong bipartisan support. In the last Congress the House bill had 284 bipartisan cosponsors, but was held up by a committee chairman who has since retired,” Amundson said.

“The bill provides law enforcement with the tools it needs to crack down on egregious animal cruelty on federal property or in interstate commerce,” she added. “Animal cruelty isn’t self-contained by state but moves across state lines, so this bill is critical to stomping out crime. It’s supported by law enforcement, prosecuting attorneys and the Humane Society Legislative Fund.”

Amundson asks that supporters of this bill call their U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator at 202-225-3121 to ask for cosponsorship of the bill.

The bill is called H.R. 724 in the House and will soon be introduced in the Senate by senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

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