Bill making animal cruelty a federal felony passed by the House

Bill making animal cruelty a federal felony passed by the House

TRI-STATE (WFIE) - The House just passed the bill that would set a national standard to punish people who hurt animals.

It is called the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT Act and it makes animal cruelty a federal felony. With specific language included, future cases could be easier to prosecute.

14 News reporter Evan Gorman spoke with a couple of women who work in the rescue industry. They are excited to hear this is gaining traction.

Her name is now Helen. She’s a sweet Shih Tzu and has been chronically neglected. Animal Control recently picked up the pooch in Mclean County, Kentucky.

“Anything that helps to prosecute animal offenders more strictly is a win,” says Vanderburgh Humane Society Development Coordinator Amanda Coburn.

As authorities try to find who is responsible, House lawmakers passed the bill making animal cruelty a federal felony.

“People tend to say that there are so many more important issues than animal cruelty and for some people that may be true, but animal cruelty is psychologically linked to many other types of violence," explains Coburn. "And we’re allowed to care about more than one thing at the same time.”

The PACT Act contains specific language banning crushing, burning, drowning, and impaling animals, among other forms of cruelty.

“The problem lies when things are too vague. and you can’t pinpoint what animal cruelty actually is,” Coburn explains.

And that's not all.

It would also allow officials to go after suspected animal abusers who cross state lines.

“When each individual state is allowed to legislate their own animal cruelty laws if the state next door is a lot less stringent on their regulations, they’ll hop over to the next state and there is nothing we can do,” says Coburn.

Co-sponsor Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan of Florida says it would close a big loophole. Specifically, it would ban animal cruelty recorded on video. Previous laws banned creating and selling those videos, but not the acts of cruelty in them.

“Still, having that many politicians agree on something, even just in the house, is great so hopefully, it shows some promise,” Coburn explains.

Violations of the bill could lead to prison for up to seven years.

There are still a few more hurdles before this could become law. The Senate still needs to vote.

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