The U.S. could soon introduce a law that would consider certain acts of animal cruelty federal crimes.
The U.S. Senate just passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act. The bill is being led by U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). It would make burning, drowning, crushing, suffocating and impaling live animals, as well as sexually exploiting them, a federal felony.
Most animal cruelty laws are passed at a state level. The PACT Act would ban extreme acts of cruelty when they take place in interstate commerce or on federal property.
In 2010, it became illegal to create, sell, or distribute footage of people torturing or killing animals like puppies. The PACT Act ensures that the acts of animal cruelty within the videos are also outlawed, NPR reports.
Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., a leading co-sponsor of the bill said that the PACT Act is “a milestone for pet owners and animal lovers across the country.”
Support for the Anti-Animal Cruelty Bill
This marks the third time that the full Senate has voted to pass it. The bill was previously blocked in the House by the then-House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).
According to the Animal Legal Defence Fund (ADF), a nonprofit organization that aims to create better legal protections for animals, there are few federal laws that protect animals. The Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which was signed into law in 1966, extends protections mainly to animals in labs and zoos as well as commercially bred animals, like puppy mill dogs. It also prohibits dog and cockfighting, as long as the practice crosses state lines.
ADF notes: “The AWA itself, as well as its enforcement by the Department of Agriculture, are frequently criticized for allowing inhumane practices to go unchecked.”
Other existing federal protections for animals include the Endangered Species Act and the Human Slaughter Act, which mandates that animals be stunned unconscious before being killed.
The PACT Act has the support of 301 bipartisan cosponsors.
“This bill has received so much bipartisan support because Americans care about animal welfare,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FLA.), who introduced the bill to the House last month. “We form deep relationships with our companion animals, and are rightfully outraged by cases of animal abuse.”
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the PACT Act into law.