Bill introduced to make animal cruelty a nationwide felony

Bill introduced to make animal cruelty a nationwide felony

Two Florida congressmen reintroduced a bill on Wednesday that would make animal cruelty a national felony. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act addresses "crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling animals," plus bestiality. If the bill passes, those found guilty of such malicious acts could face up to seven years in prison.

"The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said one of the bill's sponsors, Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, per The Orlando Sentinel. His partner, Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat, said the measure is "commonsense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws."

cat trying to escape a cage Credit: Getty

The congressmen cited a 2010 law aimed at punishing those who create videos of animals subjected to torture, and argued it was not comprehensive enough. "We’ve acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos," Deutch said. "Now it’s time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well."

Lawmakers previously introduced the PACT Act twice and the Senate unanimously passed the bill both times. However, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, the Republican Representative from Virginia, singlehandedly blocked the measure from coming to the floor of the House for a vote. Since Goodblatte is no longer serving in Congress, lawmakers are optimistic that the third time will be the charm for the PACT Act.

The Humane Society applauded the bill's reintroduction, noting that it would close a loophole in the 2010 law, which only applies when animal cruelty is captured on video. "Decades ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recognized the seriousness of animal cruelty and its link to escalating violence toward humans," Sara Amundson, the president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, told the Sentinel. She added that the law could reduce other types of crime.

The PACT Act includes exceptions for hunting, normal veterinary care, hunting, and conduct necessary to protect life or property from a serious threat caused by an animal.