The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to make acts of animal cruelty a federal crime.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act was unanimously passed Tuesday, expanding a prior law that criminalized the creation and distribution of “obscene” videos of animal abuse. The law, however, did not prohibit acts of violence toward animals itself.
Introduced by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) in the House, the law would make it a federal crime for “any person to intentionally engage” in animal cruelty, including burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise injuring “non-mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians,” per a fact sheet provided by Rep. Deutch’s office.
The law wouldn’t interfere with local legislation against animal cruelty.
Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced the Senate companion of the bill in February.
“This bill sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals,” Deutch said in a statement. “We’ve received support from so many Americans from across the country and across the political spectrum. Animal rights activists have stood up for living things that do not have a voice.”
Animal rights groups such as the ASPCA praised the passage of the act.
“With the House passage of the PACT Act, we are one step closer to a federal law protecting animals from one of the most brutal acts of cruelty, and we thank Representatives Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan for introducing this bill as well as their continued leadership on animal protection,” said Richard Patch, ASPCA’s vice president of federal affairs, in a statement to USA TODAY.