Animal cruelty could become a federal offense with a penalty of up to seven years in prison under a bill passed by the House of Representatives.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT, would make it a federal crime for a person to ‘intentionally crush, burn, drown, suffocate, impale or otherwise subject an animal to serious bodily harm.’
The measure protects non-human mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians, with violators facing fines and up to seven years in prison.
Animal cruelty could become a federal offense with a penalty of up to seven years in prison under a bill passed by the House of Representatives. The bill was introduced in the House by Democrat politician Ted Deutch, (left), Vern Buchanan, a Republican, (right)
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT, would make it a federal crime for a person to intentionally crush, burn, drown, suffocate, impale or ‘otherwise subject an animal to serious bodily harm’
The bill was introduced in the House by Democrat Representative Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan, a Republican.
It was brought forward in conjunction with Alabama Republican Representatives Bradley Byrne and Martha Roby.
‘We’ve received support from so many Americans from across the country and across the political spectrum,’ Deutch said in a statement.
‘Animal rights activists have stood up for living things that do not have a voice. Law enforcement officers have sought a federal overlay to help them stop animal abusers who are likely to commit acts of violence against people.
‘And animal lovers everywhere know this is simply the right thing to do.’
Buchanan said in a statement that he is hopeful that the bill can be passed into law.
‘This is a landmark bill that establishes for the first time a federal offense against the malicious torturing of animals.
He added: ‘We are optimistic it will pass the Senate, which has already supported the bill in two previous sessions of Congress.’
The legislation would build on a measure signed by President Barack Obama banning videos showing animals being burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or tortured by other means.
The move was also welcomed by Sarah Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, (pictured)
Vern Buchanan, a Republican, said the chances of the bill being passed into law were good
Animal welfare campaigners had claimed the law as it stood previously did not address the cruelty taking place in much of the content posted online.
Deutch also tweeted on Tuesday that the bill represents ‘a major step to end animal abuse and protect our pets.’
He said: ‘The U.S. House just passed the #PACT Act, legislation that I introduced with my colleague to criminalize animal abuse.
‘This important piece of legislation would make animal cruelty a federal offense. Great news for my fellow animal lovers!.’
The PACT Act would not conflict with local animal cruelty laws or enforcement, lawmakers said.
‘Most people are shocked to know that the U.S. does not have a federal animal cruelty law,’ Animal Wellness Foundation Director of Federal Affairs Holly Gann told Fox News.
‘Enacting this bill sends a signal that our nation has no tolerance for intentional cruelty toward animals.’
The move was also welcomed by Kitty Block, the chief executive of the Humane Society, and Sara Amundson , president of the organization’s legislative fund.
In a blog on the Humane Society’s website they claimed: ‘ We know by now that animal cruelty is an indicator of social pathology and those who commit crimes against humans often start out by hurting animals.
‘It is a pattern of violence that is both common and well-documented, and it adds to the urgency of passing this commonsense law.
‘Let’s make this the year we pass the PACT Act, so those who commit the worst crimes against animals do not go scot-free.’