A bill was passed by Senate lawmakers on Tuesday, making animal cruelty a federal felony.
Florida Representatives Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan sponsored the bill. It is set to go to President Donald Trump for a final signature. The bipartisan bill has been passed two weeks following the Senate passing it on a voice note.
Deutch said the bill would send a clear message that “our society does not accept cruelty against animals.” He also thanked all the advocates who helped in passing the bill and said he looked forward to the President signing it. Buchanan agreed, adding that the torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be severely punished.
Senator Pat Toomey called the move a significant victory in the efforts to stop animal cruelty. He tweeted that it establishes “strong penalties for monsters who hurt animals.” He also noted that Congress had never passed a comprehensive animal torture law.
The bill is set to outlaw a form of animal abuse called crushing in which animals are maimed and tortured. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act would ban other forms of torture as well. These include burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling, and so on.
Back in 2010, Congress had passed the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act. The creation and distribution of animal crushing videos were made illegal under this act. The act does not explicitly prohibit the actions themselves, only the sale or shipping of videos of those acts.
The National Sheriffs’ Association and Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed the bill. Other law enforcement agencies have also welcomed it. They cited a well-recorded connection between animal cruelty and violence against people.
However, the underlying acts of cruelty against animals were not included, according to Deutch’s office news release. But, by banning some instances of animal abuse, the PACT Act closes the loophole. It prohibits extreme acts of cruelty that occur in interstate commerce or federal property. The PACT act also cracks down on the sexual abuse of animals.
Additionally, the PACT act will not be able to interfere with local animal cruelty laws or enforcements.