President Trump signed a bipartisan bill on Monday that makes certain acts of animal cruelty are charged as a federal felony, saying it’s important for the nation to combat “heinous and sadistic acts of cruelty.”
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) prohibits extreme acts of cruelty, including intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impalement, carried out against "living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians," according to National Public Radio.
Even though animal cruelty is a crime in all 50 states, animal activists claim the new law will make it easier for the federal government to prosecute those who carry out the abuse. The bill signed by Trump makes animal cruelty punishable by a fine, up to seven years in prison or both.
The legislation strengthens a 2010 law called the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which made the creation, sale and distribution of videos depicting extreme acts of animal cruelty a federal crime. The PACT closes a gap in the law by allowing federal authorities to prosecute individuals filmed crushing or torturing animals, regardless of whether they were the ones to create the video, according to The Humane Society.
Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., introduced the bipartisan initiation to the House, NPR reported. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., told the Hartford Courant they worked together to pushed the bill through the Senate and onto Trump’s desk.
“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,” Blumenthal told the newspaper.
Holly Gann of the Animal Wellness Foundation told the Associated Press that the legislation will “better protect some of the most vulnerable among us.”
"PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level,” Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement. “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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.