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Act would empower FBI to prosecute animal abuse cases that cross state lines

WASHINGTON (March 13, 2017)—A group of senior Republican and Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee reintroduced the nation’s first-ever general federal animal cruelty bill – the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, H.R. 1494. Sponsored by Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the PACT Act would empower the FBI and U.S. Attorneys to prosecute animal abuse cases that cross state lines, affect interstate commerce, or occur on federal property. The bill was introduced with 11 other original cosponsors: Reps. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, Tom Marino, R-Pa., Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, Trent Franks, R-Ariz., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.

All 50 states have felony penalties for malicious cruelty to animals. This legislation would complement the states’ anti-cruelty laws in the same way that the federal animal fighting statute complements the 50 state animal fighting laws, providing an additional tool to be employed when extreme animal cruelty occurs on federal property or otherwise in interstate commerce.

The PACT Act closes a loophole in the federal Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010, which already prohibits the trade in obscene “crush” videos that show the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling, or other heinous abuse of live animals, but does not prohibit the underlying acts of abuse if no video is created. The PACT Act would close that gap by allowing for the criminal prosecution of those same extreme acts of animal cruelty when they occur in interstate or foreign commerce, regardless of whether a video is produced. The bill has been endorsed by more than 200 sheriffs and police departments in 36 states and national groups including the National Sheriffs’ Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

The Senate passed this common sense legislation last year, but the House did not take up the companion measure, despite the bill having attracted more than 250 cosponsors.

"It’s long past time that Congress empowers the FBI and U.S. Attorneys to deal with malicious and deviant cruelty on federal property or that crosses state lines," said Wayne Pacelle, executive vice president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund and president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "We know there is a well-documented link between animal abuse and other forms of violent behavior, and this legislation is a tool to combat this violence when we get a first look at it."

Media Contact: Anna West, awest@humanesociety.org, 301-258-1518

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The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at hslf.org, on our blog at animalsandpolitics.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/humanelegislation and on Twitter at twitter.com/HSLegFund.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We're there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty -- on the Web at humanesociety.org. Subscribe to Wayne Pacelle’s blog, A Humane Nation. Join The HSUS on Facebook. Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your Apple or Android device by searching for our “Humane TV” app.