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Proposed Bill Would Make Animal Cruelty a Federal Felony

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Two congressmen from Florida say existing laws don’t do enough to protect animals and are sponsoring a bill that, if passed, would make animal cruelty a nationwide federal felony offense.


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

If passed by Congress, 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 would also address bestiality and other attempts to sexually exploit animals. Offenses would carry a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison, a possible fine, or both.

“This is commonsense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws,” Deutch said. “For many Americans, animal welfare is an important policy issue, and the idea of animal abuse is abhorrent.”

Buchanan echoed Deutch’s sentiment, adding, “the torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Protecting animals from cruelty is a top priority for me.”

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.

The Humane Society, National Sheriffs’ Association and the Fraternal Order of Police have all already endorsed PACT.

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