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Proposed law would make animal cruelty a nationwide felony

Pvt. Tank Chester, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division’s mascot, rests in front of the Bulldog Brigade’s colors after greeting Soldiers around the headquarters building. Tank is 6 months old and was welcomed to the brigade on June 25. (Staff Sgt. Felicia Jagdatt/U.S. Army)
January 31, 2019

Two U.S. lawmakers have proposed an animal anti-cruelty bill that will make the crime a federal felony with a penalty of up to seven years in prison and possible fines.

Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch and Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan sponsored the bill, known as the Preventing Animal Cruel and Torture (PACT) Act and would ban “crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals,” CBS News reported.

The bill would also include provisions for bestiality and other sexually exploitative acts involving animals.

The bill does permit exceptions for “hunting, veterinary care, and actions necessary to protect life or property from a serious threat from an animal,” CBS News added.

In 2010, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act banned the production, sale, and distribution of animal abuse videos.

However, a loophole exists in the law that does not prohibit acts of animal torture. PACT would move to modify that law, Newsweek reported.

“We will get this done. It’s bipartisan, common-sense policy that will protect our animals,” Deutch tweeted.

Buchanan called it a “top priority” for him and sent out a tweet that said, “The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

PACT is endorsed by the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), who mentions that animal cruelty is a felony in most states, but is a misdemeanor in others.

HSLF’s website asks for support on PACT and states, “All 50 states now have felony penalties for malicious cruelty, and there are federal statutes on animal fighting and crush videos. But there is no federal law prohibiting the underlying act of malicious cruelty when it occurs on federal property or in interstate commerce, and we need to close this gap.”

PACT was also endorsed by “over 200 law enforcement groups, including the National Sheriffs Association and the Fraternal Order of Police and received 284 bipartisan co-sponsors in Congress’ previous session,” said CBS.

With Rep. Bob Goodlatte now retired from Congress and his efforts to stop a vote diminished, PACT has a much better chance of passing, CNN reported.

Passing the bill would allow officials to pursue animal abusers, granting them federal authority to do so.

Deutch said, “This is commonsense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws. We’ve acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos; now it’s time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well.”