Following a new bill from the US House of Representatives, certain acts of animal cruelty are now a federal crime.
The House voted unanimously on the bill, in a bid to make animal abuse a felony nationwide if signed into law by US President Donald Trump.
The bi-partisan bill, also known as the Preventing Animal Cruelty And Torture (PACT) Act, was introduced Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla – a companion bill was also introduced in the Senate.
The PACT Act expands on 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which deemed the creation and distribution of ‘animal crushing’ videos illegal. These acts, which were not included in the 2010 bill, are part of the new legislation.
The term ‘animal crushing’ is defined in the bill text as ‘actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury,’ as per The Hill.
The new legislation also makes it illegal for ‘any person to intentionally engage in animal crushing if the animals or animal crushing is in, substantially affects, or uses a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce,’ as ABC News reports.
Buchanan said of the bill: ‘The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.’
However, ‘hunting, trapping, fishing, a sporting activity not otherwise prohibited by federal law’ are exempt from the bill, as well as cases where it would be ‘necessary to protect the life or property of a person’.
In a statement, Deutch called the bill’s passage ‘a significant milestone in the bipartisan quest to end animal abuse and protect our pets.’
The statement added:
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.
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.
Sara Amundson, the president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, also applauded the bill.
Over the course of 30 years in animal protection, I have encountered terrible animal cruelties, but acts of intentional torture are the most disturbing because they demonstrate how some people treat the most vulnerable in our society.
These malicious acts deserve federal scrutiny and action. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials will finally have the tools they need to bring those responsible for cruelty to animals to justice.
To report cruelty, neglect or an animal in distress, call the NSPCA’s 24-hour line on 0300 1234 999. For further information, visit their website.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.