Although we may be affected by the news, regardless of what the news happens to be, it always seems to affect us in a profound way when it involves animal cruelty. It doesn’t matter if it is a dog around the corner from where we live or if it is one that lives on the other side of the world, it has the ability to tug at our heartstrings and we want nothing more than to see justice done for the animal that is affected.
It seems as if lawmakers may be leaning in that direction if a new bill in Florida takes place. It aims to make animal cruelty a nationwide felony and is headed up by Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan, who are both representatives of that state. It is known as the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, and it is targeting “crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling animals.” If they are successful in getting it passed, anyone who is guilty of violent crimes against animals may spend up to seven years in prison.
“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Rep. Buchanan said to the Orlando Sentinel of the bill. His partner said the effort is “commonsense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws.”
There have been other bills in the past that addressed the issue of animal abuse, some on the state level and some on a federal level. A law in 2010 was set to stop punishing those who were creating videos showing animals being tortured. Lawmakers feel that the PACT Act is much more comprehensive.
Rep. Deutch added, “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.”
The PACT Act has been introduced in the past. Over 200 law enforcement endorsements were obtained in another session of Congress but in the house, it was blocked by former Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte. He is no longer serving.
The introduction of the bill was applauded by the Humane Society. They are hoping that it would get rid of a loophole caused by former legislation that only made it illegal to record the video. The PACT Act may not have worked in the past but Sara Amundson, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, told the Sentinel that she’s optimistic the bill will pass this time.
“Decades ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recognized the seriousness of animal cruelty and its link to escalating violence toward humans,” she explained.
Some exceptions will be included in the bill, such as veterinary care, conduct needed to protect life or property, and hunting.
The PACT Act was also endorsed by the Animal Welfare Institute. They feel that it is more than an issue that involves animals, it also involves the general public. Perhaps the most celebrated part of the bill was the introduction of punishment for those making ‘animal crushing’ videos. In those videos, people mutilate, torture or kill small animals for the satisfaction of fetishes.
Congress passed the Animal Crushing Video Prohibition Act in 2010. It became illegal to create or distribute those videos. The law did not cover the animal cruelty associated with the making of the video, however.
That is going to be addressed in the PACT Act that would ban the creation and distribution of the videos. Those involved would be eligible for felony charges, prison time and fines.