FORT MYERS, Fla -- The U.S. Senate unanimously voted to pass an animal cruelty act Tuesday that could change the way people are punished for harming animals.
The PACT (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture) Act is something being backed by animal lovers all over the country.
Introduced by Florida congressmen Ted Deutch (D) and Vern Buchanan (R), the bill will make animal cruelty a federal felony. Congressmen Deutch says it's in response to a request from law enforcement to have federal guidelines in place to help stop abusers who are hurting animals. People who they also believe are more likely to commit acts of violence against humans.
The senate followed suit passing the act after a show of support from the house in October.
It may seem like a commonsense law, banning the crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise subjecting of animals to serious bodily harm.
However, currently there is no other federal law in place that protects against cruelty to animals. The goal with the PACT Act is to close a loophole that dates back to 2010. That’s when Congress passed a law to stop people from making and distributing videos that show people brutally killing and harming animals, called the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act. The issue is that currently, the actual animal abuse itself is still not considered illegal on the federal level.
With local cruelty laws already put in place on the state level, the question is what exactly does this change? Could we see greater punishment for abusers?
The hope with making animal abuse a felony on the federal level is that it will give law enforcement the ability to seek greater punishment for abusers. Those who violate it could face not only a fine by up to seven years in prison.
It would be up to law enforcement in each individual state to enforce.
The Humane Society recently put out a nationwide list of law enforcement agencies who endorse the new bill. In Florida, both The Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Marco Island Police Department are on that list.
The congressmen behind this effort say that President Trump is expected to sign the act soon.