U.S. House bill would make animal cruelty a federal offense

February 5, 2019
dvm360 Staff
dvm360, dvm360 March 2019, Volume 50, Issue 3

Florida lawmakers hope to close loophole making videosbut not torturea national felony.

U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) on Jan. 23 introduced the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act to outlaw animal cruelty and make it easier to prosecute those responsible, according to a release from Buchanan's office.

While Congress passed legislation in 2010 to prohibit the creation and distribution of so-called “animal crush videos”-in which individuals kill, mutilate or torture animals and release the videos to the internet-the underlying acts themselves are still legal under federal law, the release states.

The PACT Act would close that loophole. Specifically, it would amend the federal criminal code to prohibit intentional acts of crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise subjecting animals to serious bodily harm. Those convicted would face federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison, the release states. 

While all 50 states now consider animal cruelty a felony, a federal regulation is necessary, lawmakers say. “By building on state and local laws, Congress should act to guarantee a level of protection for animals across the country by criminalizing these inhumane acts,” Deutch says in the release. “We've acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos; now it's time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well."

The bill contains exceptions for normal veterinary care, hunting and conduct necessary to protect life or property from a serious threat caused by an animal, according to the release.

An identical bill passed the Senate during the last session of Congress but failed to move out of committee in the House.

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