The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill that would outlaw animal cruelty at the federal level. Now, it's up to the Senate to protect our furry friends.
It may come as a shock to you that most cases of animal cruelty aren't considered federal crimes. This means acts of cruelty intentionally meant to harm pet animals are often left to state governments to police, and more often than not, these bodies may not be strict enough on perpetrators of such practices. However, due to a new bill that was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 24 - one of the only bills to receive such strong bipartisan support - animal cruelty can soon become against federal law, The Washington Post reports. First, the bill needs to be passed by the Senate.
Known as the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, also referred to as the PACT Act, the bill will make it a federal crime to purposefully crush, burn, drown, suffocate, impale, or propagate other forms of violence onto animals, ultimately causing “serious bodily injury” or death. Violations of the law include serious ramifications based on the severity of the crime, including fines for the least cruel all the way to up to seven years of imprisonment for the most violent acts of animal cruelty.
Supporters of the bill believe that the bill will fill important gaps in current federal law, which currently does not recognize animal cruelty as a crime. At present, federal law only bans animal fighting in addition to criminalizing the production and subsequent sharing of videos that display the kind of abuse that the PACT Act would make illegal. According to Kitty Block, president of the Humane Society of the United States (a fitting name!), all states have some legislation with regard to animal cruelty, however, due to the lack of a federal ban on such practices, prosecuting cases of animal cruelty that take place in different jurisdictions or those which occur in airports, military bases, and other areas under federal purview becomes incredibly tedious.
She told The Washington Post in an interview, "This really is something that should pass. It’s not controversial. It’s what the American people want." And she's right - it's not controversial. In fact, most Americans are shocked to learn that animal cruelty isn't already against federal law. The bill has gained favor from animal welfare groups, of course, but also from members of law enforcement who want effective federal measures to stop acts of violence entirely. Research has shown that those who harm animals are likely to harm people, too. As bill sponsor Ted Deutch, the Democratic Representative for Florida, stated, "[The bill will] stop animal abusers who are likely to commit acts of violence against people... And animal lovers everywhere know this is simply the right thing to do." Hopefully, the PACT Act will pass in the Senate as easily as it did in the House.