House Passes Bill Making Animal Cruelty a Federal Felony

Dogs look out from a cage at a dog farm during a rescue event, involving the closure of the farm organised by the Humane Society International (HSI), in Hongseong on February 13, 2019. - This farm is a combined dog meat and puppy mill business with almost 200 dogs and …
JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that would make certain types of animal cruelty a federal felony.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act bans extremely abusive acts of animal abuse, such as crushing, and continues the criminalization of making and distributing animal crush videos.

“This bill sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals,” said Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, who introduced the legislation with Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, also of Florida.

“We’ve received support from so many Americans from across the country and across the political spectrum,” Deutch said, reported ABC News. “I’m deeply thankful for all of the advocates who helped us pass this bill, and I look forward to the Senate’s swift passage and the President’s signature.”

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Buchanan said as well. “Passing the PACT Act sends a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated.

The bill expands upon the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which initially criminalized the creation and distribution of animal crush videos.

The PACT Act would make it a federal crime for “any person to purposely engage in animal crushing in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

The legislation continues:

It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly create an animal crush video, if—(A) the person intends or has reason to know that the animal crush video will be distributed in, or using a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce; or (B) the animal crush video is distributed in, or using a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce.

Violators would be subject to criminal penalties, including a fine, a prison term of up to seven years, or both.

The measure provides exceptions for unintentional killing of an animal as well as conduct or videos of “customary and normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry, or other animal management practice,” “the slaughter of animals for food,” and other practices such as hunting, trapping, fishing, predator or pest control, scientific research, protecting a person’s life or property, and euthanizing an animal.

In response to the legislation, pro-life organization March for Life Action tweeted the bill is “good news for animal lovers” and asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to “show the same respect and offer protections for unborn humans and those born alive after an abortion.”

House Republicans held a hearing in September on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, legislation that seeks to protect babies born alive after abortion from infanticide.

House Democrats have refused to take up the measure, H.R. 962, which states infants who survive abortion deserve the same treatment and care as any other newborn.

Pelosi and other Democrat leaders have blocked a vote on the bill more than 80 times.

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) filed a discharge petition on the legislation in April that requires more Democrat signatures in order to bypass Pelosi and force a vote on the Born-Alive Act.

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