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U.S. Senate unanimously passes bill to prohibit animal cruelty, bestiality

A House companion bill has 262 cosponsors, putting the nation on the cusp of passing its first-ever federal anti-cruelty statute

WASHINGTON, DC (Dec. 15, 2017)—The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, S. 654, earning praise from The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund. As the first-ever general federal animal cruelty bill, the PACT Act builds on the federal animal crush video law enacted in 2010, which banned the creation, sale, and distribution of obscene videos that show animals being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or subjected to other forms of heinous cruelty. The PACT Act, led by Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., will prohibit those same extreme acts of animal cruelty when they occur in interstate or foreign commerce, regardless of whether a video is produced, and those convicted of such abuse will face federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison. The measure also makes bestiality a federal criminal enterprise.

The House bill introduced by Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Ted Deutch, D-Fla,. has earned bipartisan support with 262 cosponsors. This legislation is also endorsed by more than 200 law enforcement agencies across the country. Few bills in the Congress have this level of bipartisan support.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States and executive vice president of Humane Society Legislative Fund, said: “It’s past due for the federal government to enact a strong anti-cruelty law, to complement the state laws against malicious mistreatment of animals. We know that there is a correlation between vicious cruelty to animals and violence against humans.”

Sen. Toomey said: “Animal crushing is absolutely disgusting and there is no place for this behavior in our society. It is long past time this abhorrent practice came to an end and I am glad the Senate once again took the next step towards advancing that goal. I am hopeful that this bipartisan bill will pass the House and finally get enacted into law.”

Sen. Blumenthal said: “This bipartisan measure finally prohibits a heinous, inhumane practice—stating emphatically once and for all that there is no place in a civilized society for the maiming and torturing of animals. Thanks to the long overdue action of the Senate, the barbaric individuals who commit these crimes will no longer walk free. I call on the House to pass this important legislation immediately.”

At a time when our nation is divided, opposition to animal cruelty is one of the ideas that unites us. Our nation should have a zero tolerance policy for malicious cruelty, and the PACT Act complements the work of the states in rooting out malicious mistreatment of animals.

“We are immensely grateful to Senators Toomey and Blumenthal for leading this critical fight,” added Pacelle. “Our nation should have a zero tolerance policy for violence against innocent animals.”

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.