PACT makes animal cruelty a felony |

PACT makes animal cruelty a felony

President Trump is expected to sign the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture, or PACT, Act after it passed unanimously through the Senate. If signed, the bill would make animal cruelty a federal felony. H.R.724 was introduced by Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) in January of 2019. The bill, according to Danielle Beck, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s senior director of governmental affairs, has 301 cosponsors, including 216 democrats and 85 republicans. A companion bill (S. 479) was introduced by Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) last February, and has 41 cosponsors in total (33 D, 6 R, 2 I). H.R. 724 passed the House on October 22, 2019 by a voice vote and passed in the Senate without amendment by unanimous consent earlier this week.

The bill revises and expands criminal provisions with respect to animal crushing, defined as conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury. Current federal law prohibits fighting and criminalizes animal cruelty only if the wrongdoers create and sell videos of the act, under the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act. Under the PACT Act, those convicted could face seven years in prison and fines on federal felony charges.

The legislation contains exceptions for customary and normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry, or other animal management practice; the slaughter of animals for food; hunting, trapping, fishing, a sporting activity not otherwise prohibited by Federal law, predator control, or pest control; medical or scientific research; conduct necessary to protect the life or property of a person; or performed as part of euthanizing an animal.

In an article released by Protect the Harvest, there are already laws against animal cruelty in all 50 states. Additionally, subjective language like “common practices” can be left open to interpretation.

According to the release, practices employed by veterinarians and producers that are standard and necessary could be misunderstood by someone inexperienced in production agriculture or veterinary medicine. Under the vague language of the bill, Protect the Harvest said some common practices could be misinterpreted based on bill’s language.

Terry Fankhauser, executive vice president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, said he hopes the Act will create a hard stop on additional state and national legislation that is inconsistent and ill-conceived, while the PACT Act will allow for swift and strong prosecution of those who are willfully abusing animals.

“Now is the time to engage animal health officials and professionals for a true determination of animal welfare issues on livestock production units,” he said. “It is our hope the Act will employee the resources necessary to implement this at state level.”

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