Animal abuse wasn’t illegal at the federal level. The PACT Act changed that.

By Hannah Brown,

A bill making animal cruelty a federal offense is now law.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act expands on a 2010 law protecting animals subjected to “crush videos,” where small animals are seen crushed to death by faceless women in high heels. Animal rights activists criticized the 2010 law for failing to criminalize the acts of animal cruelty depicted in the videos, rather than just the videos themselves.

The PACT Act passed Congress unanimously and President Trump signed it into law on Monday. It goes further than the 2010 law by directly banning animal cruelty, including crushing, drowning, suffocating, sexually exploiting, stabbing, or burning animals. Violators can be punished with fines, felony charges, and up to seven years in prison.

Until now, the treatment of animals has largely been regulated at the state level. Previously, the Animal Welfare Act, passed in 1966, was the only federal law on the books regulating the treatment of animals and it only set a minimum standard.

The PACT Act doesn’t apply to industries long targeted by animal rights activists, including meat production and scientific research. Still, activists have said the act is a victory for animal rights because it increases the likelihood that abuse would be punished by allowing federal law enforcement to get involved.

“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,” Chris Schindler, vice president of field services for Washington, DC’s Humane Rescue Alliance, said, adding that the act “will ensure some of the most horrific acts of animal cruelty are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The act was introduced by two Florida members of Congress, Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan and Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch, and had 301 cosponsors. It was endorsed by both the National Sheriffs Association and the Humane Society of the United States.

The PACT Act is meant to stop cruelty to animals — with some big exceptions

Animal rights are increasingly coming to the fore through trends like meatless meatsactivism against the use of animals in tourist attractions, and fur sales bans that even have support from the Queen of England.

“Poll after poll shows that when you bring animal welfare issues to voters or share with them who the humane candidates are, there is significant interest,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, citing the example of the overwhelming support for the Texas ballot initiative to allow retired police dogs to remain with their handlers.

While the Act shores up protection for animals, there are several exceptions baked into it. Hunting for sustenance, euthanasia, scientific research, and necessary action to protect human life or property figure among the exceptions.

AJ Albrecht, senior policy adviser and counsel for Mercy for Animals, a group focused on eliminating animal suffering, described the new law as “incremental change.”

The exceptions encapsulate all the animals that we here at Mercy for Animals advocate for,” said Albrecht, adding that hunted and farmed animals are afforded “very, very few” protections under the law.

In the future, she said she hopes to see legislation that includes protections for farmed and hunted animals. For instance, Albrecht advocated for the inclusion of poultry in the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which requires cows, pigs, and other food animals to be stunned before execution; regulations making clear that plant-based products can be labeled with terms like “meat” and “milk”; and legislation that affords agricultural whistleblowers protections when they inform about cruel farming practices.

Still, animal rights activists agree that the PACT Act is a step forward and that it will set a minimum standard of protection as law — even if not all creatures are equally protected.



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  1. Thank Goddess for a law that should never have been needed in the first place.

    Fast food are slow poisons. Read: “THE FAST FOOD NATION” (sorry I lost my book and forgot the journalist’s name who did the research and wrote the book. Not only are the animals being treated cruelly, but so are the people who are working at the slaughter houses (undocumented, they can’t get work elsewhere). Parasites, worms, germs, unhealthy bacteria, if that were not enough mutated e-coli created in those filthy environments is eating brains. Anyone who treats animals and people that way are no better than those who believe: “If you can’t eat it, use it, fuck it, kill it.”

    Our power is purchasing power. Put them out of business by refusing to buy cheap – non-organic – meats and dairy products. I saved my health and life years ago by becoming a vegetarian.

  2. It is a step forward, but lot still has to be done, there should be no exceptions for hunting for fun or fur.
    And have you seen the documentary how pigs get to their end in these enormous stables. If you dare to look at it, you will not sleep and not eat any pigmeat. Or for that matter cow/chicken meat. And the health contents leave a lot open for bacteria.
    When the pigs start to scream, it is the most horrible sound.
    People treat them like they are not living creatures. It is nauseating.
    And we ‘THINK” we are a civilised race. Forget it, we are not even in the neighbourhood
    Now, we should really forbid all those killings as the queen of England wants to change it

    Can’t we think for ourselves? Do we really need Roalty to agree ? Are they stopping their hunting?

    I don’t understand people, Stables with 100.000 of pig, with millions of chicken, etc.


    Did you know that in the Netherlands in every slaughterhouse there has to be a licensed
    Vet to see, if everything happens allright for the animals, but it DOES NOT.
    The controlling body is never present, the vets are getting payed by the big bosses of the slaughterhouses to look the other way and put in their earplugs. And they do, I can not understand that you become a Vet (who is supposed to help animals.

    But what is new under the horizon. It was always like that, only it comes more known
    now. I know that the EVENT is coming and that everything is known by the CREATOR
    and what was done to people, animals and nature, AND BY WHOM1
    Nothing is secret any more, all is known. Pretend that you don’t know anything, it is easier, isn’t it? Sleep well !

  3. Means absolutely Feck all if they are still letting the cruelty of Halal slaughter slide by ,without halting this the rest means Feck all and is just window dressing.This in all reality could lose TRUMP support from animal lovers rather than gain, he turned his back on this cruelty as he done with Kosher not being recognized as equal animal cruelty , I wonder if this is why he ignored because its Jewish as is Halal , cannot have him angering his paymasters eh ??


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