Cruelty to Animals Is Now a Federal Crime

The new law had bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. emka74/Shutterstock

People who commit extreme acts of cruelty against animals will now face federal penalties including fines, prison time or both.

President Donald Trump signed the Protect Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act into law on Monday after it received bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It bans the crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impalement or other serious bodily injury to "any living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibian."

The law also strengthens 2010's Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which banned the creation, sale and distribution of videos showing extreme acts of animal cruelty. It now allows federal law enforcement to prosecute the acts of cruelty, regardless of whether a video was made.

"PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level," Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, 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 penalty for violating the law can include fines, up to seven years in jail or both, according to the legislation.

PACT was introduced in the House by Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida, and Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Florida, and was spearheaded in the Senate by Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Patrick J. Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania.

"I'm grateful to see the PACT Act finally signed into law," Blumenthal said in a statement. "The barbaric torture of animals has no place in a civilized society and should be a crime — and thanks to this new law, now it is. Senator Toomey and I worked together for years to ensure that this kind of despicable torture of animals is forbidden for good."