WASHINGTON — Congress has passed a bill making certain types of animal cruelty a federal felony.
The Senate unanimously passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act on Tuesday, two weeks after the House passed it on a voice vote.
Florida Reps. Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan sponsored the bill. Deutch, a Democrat, said it “sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals” and noted that the bill was received overwhelming support from both parties.
Buchanan, a Republican, said “the torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
The bill now goes to President Donald Trump.
Holly Gann, director of federal affairs at the advocacy group Animal Wellness Action, said the measure was long overdue.
The PACT Act Would Prohibit Extreme Acts of Cruelty
“We as a nation should have no tolerance for animal abuse, and the PACT Act will allow federal authorities to stop heinous crimes when they occur on the federal level,” Gann said in a statement.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who shepherded the bill with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called it a major victory to stop animal cruelty and make communities safer.
“There’s no place in a civilized society for maiming and torturing animals— period,” Blumenthal added.
The PACT Act would prohibit extreme acts of cruelty when they occur in interstate commerce or on federal property and cracks down on sexual abuse of animals. While current federal law bans the sale or distribution of videos showing animals being crushed, burned or tortured, it does not prohibit the underlying conduct.
Law enforcement agencies including the National Sheriffs’ Association and Fraternal Order of Police endorsed the bill, citing a well-documented connection between animal cruelty and violence against people.
The act is limited to interstate commerce and federal property and would not interfere with local animal cruelty laws or enforcement, supporters said.