Dogs & Laws

House Passes PACT Act to Make Animal Cruelty a Federal Felony

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The U.S. House of Representatives have officially passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (known as the PACT Act) to make certain instances of animal cruelty a federal felony.


Representative Ted Deutch (D) of Palm Beach and Broward Counties and Representative Vern Buchanan (R) of Sarasota, Florida sponsored H.R.724, the ‘Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act,’ or PACT, a bill that, they hope, will lead to better treatment of animals nationwide.

On Tuesday, House lawmakers voted in favor of the bill. Now, the bill will go to the Senate for vote and, if passed, eventually to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

Under the bill, anyone found to be engaging in animal crushing, burning, drowning, suffocation, impalement or other serious bodily injury could be charged with a federal felony. The measure also addresses bestiality and other attempts to sexually exploit animals. Offenses would carry a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison, a possible fine, or both.

Watch the historic House vote here:

“Today’s vote is a significant milestone in the bipartisan quest to end animal abuse and protect our pets,” Deutch said. “This bill sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals. We’ve received support from so many Americans from across the country and across the political spectrum. Animal rights activists have stood up for living things that do not have a voice. Law enforcement officers have sought a federal overlay to help them stop animal abusers who are likely to commit acts of violence against people. And animal lovers everywhere know this is simply the right thing to do. I’m deeply thankful for all of the advocates who helped us pass this bill, and I look forward to the Senate’s swift passage and the President’s signature.”

The bill contains exceptions for hunting, veterinary care, and other actions necessary to protect life or property from a serious threat from an animal.

While all 50 states currently have laws against animal cruelty at the state level, many of offenses are classified as simple misdemeanors with punishments comparable to a slap on the wrist. Additionally, abuses carried over state lines or on federal land are currently lacking jurisdiction, making prosecution difficult and time consuming.

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