BREAKING NEWS: U.S. House passes the PACT Act, cracking down on extreme animal cruelty

By on October 22, 2019 with 13 Comments

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

The U.S. House has just voted overwhelmingly to crack down on some of the worst and most malicious acts of animal cruelty, including crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling live animals and sexually exploiting them. The watershed vote takes us one step closer to a federal anti-cruelty statute that would allow the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute those who commit such unspeakable crimes against innocent animals.

The vote is especially heartening because while the PACT Act has been introduced in previous Congresses — and it has unanimously passed the Senate twice — the former House Judiciary Committee chair had refused to move the bill despite the wide support it enjoyed among members. Now, with new leadership in the House pushing the bill to victory, we are hopeful that the Senate will soon act again on a companion version, and push this legislation over the finish line.

The PACT Act builds on the federal animal crush video law that was enacted in 2010 at the urging of the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund. This law banned the creation, sale and distribution of obscene videos that show live animals being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or subjected to other forms of heinous cruelty. But the law has a gap that needs to be addressed: federal prosecutors have no recourse to hold perpetrators accountable unless an obscene video has been produced.

The PACT Act will remove that loophole by prohibiting these acts when they occur on federal property, such as federal prisons and national parks, regardless of whether a video has been produced. It would also allow federal authorities to crack down on animal cruelty that affects interstate or foreign commerce, including moving animals across state lines or information exchanged on websites that allows animal exploitation such as bestiality to occur.

This bill is supported by the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National Children’s Advocacy Center, and Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc., and more than 100 law enforcement agencies across the country. In July, we hosted an event on Capitol Hill where we were joined by the bill’s sponsors, several rescue dogs and an extraordinary high school student from Potomac, Maryland, named Sydney Helfand, who started a petition at Change.org to pass the PACT Act. Her petition gathered more than 650,000 signatures, illustrating the wide support this issue enjoys among members of the public, including young people, and the momentum behind passing this bill.

We congratulate Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., who sponsored the PACT Act in the House, and the bill’s 297 cosponsors, for their vision and persistence in seeing this important bill through. In coming weeks, we will be pushing with our collective might for the passage of the identical Senate companion bill, which was introduced by Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and already has the bipartisan support of 38 Senators.

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.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Categories
Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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13 Comments

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  1. Gary DiNardo says:

    This is excellent news, of course, but how much lobbying did it take?

  2. Jordan Fogal says:

    It is so sad that we have to pass a law to make humans act humane ! This is so sick… as it says in the bill, people who hurt animals will hurt others and enjoy it. Where do these people come from!

  3. Barbara Felton says:

    Please fight to include acts of cruelty to animals where there is no video.

  4. Judy Del Regno says:

    It’s about time something is done about the animal cruelty in the clothing industry! These are living creatures who love and feel pain just like us! Let’s put an end to this cruelty in 2020!

  5. Beth says:

    I support the new Animal Abuse Law. I do strongly feel that ANY abuse needs to be added. We can not justify starving a dog, beating it, leaving it chained outside. All abuse needs to be a strict punishment. No excuses.

  6. Jamie kipp says:

    I think the justice for amimal cruelty should ne just as nad as murder these animals have a heart also please lets do the right thing after all we have hearts also please!

  7. Cindy M. Guarnieri says:

    So Good – it’s about time!! We have to be the voices for the Voiceless. They are the innocent helpless animals that need TOUGH protection laws. The perpetrators causing pain, suffering and TRAUMA to animals need to be taught a tough lesson – they need to pay for their acts of violence against these poor animals.

  8. Maria Mercado says:

    It’s about time enough is enough already feel descusting sick from my stomach seeing those animals treat lake this! And no laws to put those bastard out in HELL forever!!

  9. Andre MENACHE says:

    Well done HSUS. Presumably the PACT Act applies to domestic pets, farm animals and wild animals. What is the situation regarding animals in laboratories, where such acts of cruelty can be common occurrences, under the guise of “scientific research”?

  10. Diane Pereira says:

    Thank God this law of animal cruelty has taken place!!💜💜💜💜💜♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️👍👍👍👍👍😍😍😍😍😍🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗

  11. Janet Ellis says:

    Does that go for the BLM and what they are doing to our wild horses.

  12. Stella says:

    To not approve this would be as bad as the acts of cruelty and abuse itself . We are suppose to a humane and caring as well as fair country. These and many of these acts are barbaric. Shameful

  13. Terry Fletcher says:

    It is difficult to believe that if an animal was cruelly tortured or killed on Federal property prior to this bill, that would not have been a crime. So even if a state has a tough felony law against animal cruelty, if the crime happened in a state park, it would not be prosecuted? I also don’t understand how animal cruelty could fall under interstate commerce without a video.

    I do wish that the media would accurately tell this story, as I am hearing people everywhere call their neighbor’s act of animal cruelty a federal crime, which is not the case. When states want to pass stricter legislation to protect animals, it’s difficult to get citizens on board when they think that all animals are now protected by federal law.

    While any new legislation to protect animals is a win, I just wish that those who publish stories about the new legislation would recognize audience a bit more. I am reading comments to all the stories that demonstrate a mass misunderstanding.

    In reality, this is still a very narrowly focused bill on a commercial enterprise (Crush videos) that most people have never heard of.

    https://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/12/10/animal.cruelty/index.html
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/724/text

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