In 2010, Congress passed a law that made it a federal crime to create animal abuse videos.
Now, a pair of Florida lawmakers have reintroduced a bill in Congress that would make torturing animals a federal crime, too, as reported by The Herald-Tribune. It would be a felony charge that comes with up to seven years in prison and possible fines.
The bill — called the “PACT Act” — was proposed by U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Ted Deutch, a Republican and Democrat from Florida, respectively. It stands for “Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture,” as noted by The Sunshine State News.
“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Buchanan told The Sunshine State News. “Protecting animals from cruelty is a top priority for me and I look forward to working with Congressman Deutch on this important issue.”
It follows the “Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act,” which was signed into law in 2010 and made illegal “the creation, sale and distribution of animal crushing videos,” according to WESH.
Yet while that law targeted animal abuse videos, it didn’t make the actual act of abuse a federal crime, as noted by The Orlando Sentinel.
“We’ve acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos,” Deutch said, according to The Orlando Sentinel. “Now it’s time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well.”
The “PACT Act” twice passed the U.S. Senate — but then-U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte “repeatedly blocked” the law from receiving a vote, according to The Humane Society of the United States.
But the Humane Society wrote that it feels more confident this year’s bill will pass the House now with Democrats in charge.
“The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed the ‘PACT Act’ twice before, and it earned 284 bipartisan House co-sponsors and over 200 law enforcement endorsements in the 115th Congress,” it wrote. “With a new Judiciary committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chances that the bill will finally become law this year are much brighter.”
The bill covers “malicious acts of animal cruelty whenever they occur on federal property or affect interstate commerce,” according to The Humane Society.
It also includes “exceptions for normal veterinary care, hunting and conduct necessary to protect life or property from a serious threat caused by an animal,” Buchanan’s office said in a statement to The Sunshine State News.
A previous version of the bill — this one proposed by Rep. Lamar Smith from Texas — targeted anyone who “crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected (an animal) to serious bodily injury.” Those animals protected included “living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians.”
Along with the Humane Society, the newly-proposed “PACT Act” has been endorsed by “the National Sheriffs Association (and) the Fraternal Order of Police,” according to The Herald-Tribune.