Even though it has been a federal crime to create and distribute animal torture videos for nearly a decade, the actual act of animal torture has not been banned at the federal level. Now, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) are trying to change that with the re-introduction of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT Act).
If passed, the PACT Act would prohibit “intentional acts of crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise subjecting animals to serious bodily harm,” according to a press release.
The law would also make it easier for U.S. attorneys to prosecute the horrible acts, and those convicted would face seven years in prison plus fines.
Currently, all 50 states have separate laws against animal cruelty. However, according to CNN, the federal statute would allow authorities to go after criminals who cross state lines or torture animals on federal property.
Rep. Buchanan said that animal torture is “abhorrent,” and we should be punishing people who commit this act “to the fullest extent of the law.” Buchanan added that protecting animals from cruelty is one of his top priorities.
Rep. Deutch said the legislation is “common sense,” and animal welfare is an important issue for many Americans. He explained that Congress should build on current state and local laws to guarantee animals a level of protection throughout the entire country.
According to the press release, there are exceptions included in the law, such as “normal veterinary care, hunting and conduct necessary to protect life or property from a serious threat caused by an animal.”
Multiple groups have endorsed the legislation, including The National Sheriffs Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Humane Society of the United States.
In a petition to garner support for the bill, the Humane Society wrote that even though every state has felony penalties for malicious cruelty, we need a federal law to close the gap for when it occurs on federal property or in interstate commerce.