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Extreme animal cruelty can now be prosecuted as a federal crime

WASHINGTON (November 25, 2019)—The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, a federal anti-cruelty bill, is now law. This animal protection measure sailed through the House of Representatives and the Senate with unanimous support and was just signed by the president.

Humane groups that worked for the bill’s passage are hailing the new law as a defining moment for establishing federal protections for animals. While all 50 states have felony provisions against animal cruelty, there’s no federal ban against animal cruelty and torture. There was a gap in the law. As a result of the PACT Act, federal law enforcement and prosecutors will finally have the tools they need to go after those who commit malicious acts of animal cruelty within federal jurisdiction with the full force of felony penalties.

“PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “The approval of this measure by the Congress and the president marks a new era in the codification of kindness to animals within federal law. For decades, a national anti-cruelty law was a dream for animal protectionists. Today, it is a reality.”

“After decades of work to protect animals and bearing witness to some of the worst cruelty, it’s so gratifying the Congress and president unanimously agreed that it was time to close the gap in the law and make malicious animal cruelty within federal jurisdiction a felony,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We cannot change the horrors of what animals have endured in the past, but we can crack down on these crimes moving forward. This is a day to celebrate.”

The PACT Act strengthens the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which prohibits the creation, sale and distribution of videos depicting extreme acts of animal cruelty, by allowing federal law enforcement to prosecute the underlying acts of cruelty—regardless of whether the abusers created a video of their conduct.

Studies repeatedly show that there is a close link between extreme animal cruelty and violence toward people. By bringing charges against perpetrators of animal cruelty, we may be able to prevent individuals with a propensity for harming people from acting on those impulses.

“Enacting this legislation into law is a major victory in the effort to protect animals from abuse,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. “I am pleased President Trump signed the PACT Act into law so that the federal government can charge and prosecute those who torture animals. Getting this legislation across the finish line would not have been possible without Senator Blumenthal’s partnership and tremendous support from the Humane Society of the United States and numerous animal advocate organizations for nearly five years.”

“I’m grateful to see the PACT Act finally signed into law. The barbaric torture of animals has no place in a civilized society and should be a crime – and thanks to this new law, now it is,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “Senator Toomey and I worked together for years to ensure that this kind of despicable torture of animals is forbidden for good. I’m thankful for Senator Toomey’s partnership, our colleagues in Congress, and the tireless work of animal welfare advocates in seeing this bill over the finish line.”

"With President Trump signing the PACT Act, animal cruelty is no longer just unacceptable, it is now illegal,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla. “We can now finally say that animal abuse is a federal crime in the United States. Americans have long stood in support of animal welfare protections, and now our national laws reflect these values. This bipartisan achievement has been years in the making, and I am proud to have been a part of this great effort alongside Congressman Buchanan and so many advocates and passionate citizens who made this possible."

“This is a milestone for pet owners and animal lovers across the country,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. “For the first time, a national law has been passed by Congress to protect animals from cruelty and abuse.”

Media contact:
Emily Ehrhorn: 202-779-1814; eehrhorn@humanesociety.org

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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.

Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates around the globe fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, the HSUS takes on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries, and together with its affiliates, rescues and provides direct care for over 100,000 animals every year. The HSUS works on reforming corporate policy, improving and enforcing laws and elevating public awareness on animal issues. More at humanesociety.org.

Subscribe to Kitty Block’s blog, A Humane World. Follow the HSUS Media Relations department on Twitter. Read the award-winning All Animals magazine. Listen to the Humane Voices Podcast.