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Animal cruelty bill heads to President

PACT Act advances in Senate by unanimous consent to prohibit extreme acts of cruelty to animals.

While current federal law bans the sale of videos showing illegal acts of cruelty, it does not prohibit the underlying conduct. On Tuesday night, the Senate passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty & Torture (PACT) Act by unanimous consent. The PACT Act would prohibit extreme acts of cruelty when they occur in interstate commerce or on federal property and cracks down on widespread sexual abuse of animals (bestiality).

The bill, led by Sens. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), would establish the first federal anti-cruelty law. The House of Representatives also recently passed the same bill, led by Reps. Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) and Vern Buchanan (R., Fla.), and now the measure goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.

The bill obtained a tremendous showing of support, with 302 co-sponsors in the House and 41 in the Senate. The bill previously passed the Senate by unanimous consent in the 114th and 115th sessions of Congress, but it was blocked in the House at that time by former House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.).

“Passing this legislation is a major victory in the effort to stop animal cruelty and make our communities safer,” Toomey said. “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.”

American Veterinary Medical Assn. president Dr. John Howe said the vote by the Senate to advance the PACT Act is a historic victory for animal welfare. “Thanks to the bipartisan work of lawmakers and animal welfare advocates, we're one step closer to finally criminalizing the cruel and inhumane act of animal crushing. We're looking forward to seeing President Trump sign this bill into law," Howe said.

“The U.S. is far overdue to establish a federal anti-cruelty law,” said Holly Gann, director of federal affairs at Animal Wellness Action and the Animal Wellness Foundation. “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.”

"This measure fills a gaping hole in the federal legal framework against malicious animal cruelty," said Wayne Pacelle, founder of Animal Wellness Action, who came up with the original concept of the PACT Act five years ago.

TAGS: Policy
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