The U.S. Senate has passed a bill making certain types of animal cruelty a federal felony.
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The Senate unanimously passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, which criminalizes certain acts of animal cruelty.
The bipartisan bill, which was passed Tuesday afternoon, will now be sent to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
“Passing this legislation is a major victory in the effort to stop animal cruelty and make our communities safer,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who sponsored the bill in the Senate along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “Evidence shows that the deranged individuals who harm animals often move on to committing acts of violence against people. It is appropriate that the federal government have strong animal cruelty laws and penalties.”
If the president signs it, it will become a federal law.
“There is no place in a civilized society for maiming and torturing animals – period,” Blumenthal added. “Senator Toomey and I have spent years working to hold the barbaric individuals who commit these crimes accountable, and I’m glad that Congress is now finally sending our bill to the president’s desk to be signed into law.”
The bill is an expansion on the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which made the creation and distribution of “animal crushing” videos illegal. The underlying acts, which were not included in the 2010 bill, are part of the PACT Act.
It would make it a federal crime for “any person to intentionally engage in animal crushing if the animals or animal crushing is in, substantially affects, or uses a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce,” according to a fact sheet of the bill.
The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., unanimously passed the House on Oct. 22 and was then sent to the Senate.
“This bill sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals. We’ve received support from so many Americans from across the country and across the political spectrum,” Deutch said in a statement when the House passed the bill. “I’m deeply thankful for all of the advocates who helped us pass this bill, and I look forward to the Senate’s swift passage and the president’s signature.”
The act is limited to interstate commerce and federal property and would not interfere with local animal cruelty laws or enforcement.
“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Buchanan said last month.
The president and CEO of the Humane Society, Kitty Block, and the head of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Sara Amundson, applauded the passing of the bill.
“The passage of this bill is a well-deserved victory for us and our colleagues at the Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Protection Litigation division, who were instrumental in helping the sponsors draft this legislation and have led the fight to pass the PACT Act for almost a decade now,” Block and Amundson said in a statement on the Humane Society’s website.
“We applaud Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., for their persistence and leadership on seeing this bill through,” the statement said.