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White House Signs Law Making Animal Cruelty a Federal Crime

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Animal cruelty has officially become a federal crime after President Trump signed the bill into law on Monday. The bipartisan bill, Preventing Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, effectively criminalizes acts of animal cruelty, including the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impalement or other serious harm to “living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians.”

The law also bans “animal crush videos,” which includes any film, video, or photograph that depicts animal cruelty. Committing an act of animal cruelty can now include a fine and a prison term up to seven years.

The bill was first introduced in the House by Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., then making its way through the Senate by Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa. While animal cruelty was already a criminal offense at the state level, without federal legislation it made it difficult to prosecute cases at the federal level. 

“This bill is particularly important to us as the only humane law enforcement agency in D.C.,” Chris Schindler, vice president of field services at the Humane Rescue Alliance told CBS News in a statement. “Our officers investigate thousands of animal cruelty cases each year, but have been unable to truly bring justice for the animals in instances when the cruelty occurs across multiple jurisdictions.”

The law was praised by the President and CEO of the Humane Society, Kitty Block. “PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level,” Block 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. For decades, a national anti-cruelty law was a dream for animal protectionists. Today, it is a reality.”

The PACT Act does have a few stipulations when it comes to certain industries and practices. It does not affect the meat production industry or laboratories conducting scientific research on animals. It also does not extend to hunting, euthanasia, or any necessary action to protect human life or property. 

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