With a signature from President Donald Trump, a bipartisan piece of legislation that makes animal cruelty a felony became federal law on Monday. In our current partisan state of affairs, it’s honestly shocking that anything is getting done in Washington at all…but here we are.
“We have a responsibility to honor the dignity of God’s creation. With today’s act, we take the critical step toward being more responsible and humane stewards of our planet and all who we want to cherish and take care of, and all of those who live on it,” Trump said as he prepared to sign the bill in the Oval Office late Monday afternoon.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) builds on a 2010 law known as the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which had made it a federal crime to create, distribute, or sell videos which depicted acts of extreme cruelty against animals.
The PACT Act strengthens the 2010 act by allowing federal prosecution of the individuals committing acts of violence against animals in such videos, and not just those who create and distribute them.
NPR reported that PACT makes certain acts of animal cruelty a federal crime and “bans the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impalement” or any other kind of significant harm purposefully perpetrated against “living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians.”
Violation of the law can bring a punishment of a fine, up to seven years in federal prison, or both.
The bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House by two Florida congressmen, Reps. Ted Deutch (D) and Vern Buchanan (R), and was moved through the Senate by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
While acts of animal cruelty are already against the law in all 50 states, a federal law was deemed necessary by animal welfare advocates and law enforcement alike to make it easier to prosecute crimes against animals that span multiple jurisdictions.
A wide range of groups, from the Humane Society and other animal welfare groups to the National Sheriffs’ Association and Fraternal Order of Police, signed on to endorse the PACT Act. Law enforcement groups noted the link between extreme cruelty against animals and violence against people.
Trump signs PACT into law
During the signing ceremony in the White House, President Trump spoke briefly in support of the bill and thanked all of those who’d been involved in creating the legislation and seeing it passed through Congress, adding a gentle dig at his predecessor.
“And I ask the same question I asked for another bill that we just signed: Why hasn’t it — this happened a long time ago? And I give you the same answer: because Trump wasn’t President.”
“This commonsense legislation restricts the creation and distribution of videos or images of animal torture,” Trump added. “It is important that we combat these heinous and sadistic acts of cruelty, which are totally unacceptable in a civilized society.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 26, 2019