The US federal government is working to strengthen animal cruelty laws throughout the country. Recently, the House unanimously passed a bill that makes animal cruelty a federal felony.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture, or PACT Act, was approved and will revise a previous law passed in 2010. This bipartisan law was introduced by Florida congressmen Vern Buchanan and Ted Deutch.
“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Buchanan said. “Passing the PACT Act sends a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated.”
Right now, federal law only bans animal fighting and only criminalizes wrongdoers when they create and sell videos depicting animal cruelty. The PACT Act will allow law enforcement to go after those who commit animal cruelty anywhere in the US. Under the PACT Act, a person can be prosecuted for drowning, suffocating, impaling, crushing, burning, and sexually exploiting animals.
A person convicted under this new law would face federal felony charges, fines, and up to seven years in federal prison. This bill has been endorsed b the Fraternal Order of Police as well as the National Sheriffs Association.
There are exceptions to this new law, including those for:
The PACT Act sends a clear and strong message to those who wish to harm animals regardless of where they live in the US. In California, state Penal Code 597 PC, makes it illegal to kill, physically harm, neglect, or overwork an animal. These laws extend to domesticated pets, stray animals, farmed animals, and wild animals.
Penal Code 597 PC is considered a “wobbler” offense in California. This means that a prosecutor has the choice to file an animal cruelty charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony,s depending on the facts of the case and the person’s criminal history.
Additionally, a person convicted of a Penal Code 597 PC offense could face the possibility of:
Whether at the state level or soon to be the federal level, animal cruelty is taken very seriously by law enforcement authorities.
This bill is not yet a law. The next hurdle is to pass the Senate, where a vote has not yet been scheduled. If the Senate passes this bill, it will go to the president’s desk for a signature or veto before it can become a law. If the unanimous vote in the House is any indication, it seems like this bill will become law in the near future.