President Donald Trump signed the first federal anti-cruelty bill in American history into law.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act strengthens a 2010 law that bans the creation and/or distribution of video that depicts “non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians” being “intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury” in an “obscene” manner and is carried out in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce. Yet, the 2010 law did not make the acts themselves a federal crime. If an accused offender is convicted under the PACT Act, the sentence could result in up to 7 years of imprisonment and a fine.
“We have a responsibility to honor the dignity of God’s creation,” Trump says during the signing ceremony. “With today’s act, we take the critical step toward being more responsible and humane stewards of our planet and all who we want to cherish and take care of, and all of those who live on it.”
Although all states have laws against animal cruelty, prosecutors had difficulty with cases that spanned different jurisdictions, as well as those that are within federal confines such as airports and military bases. The federal law closes that loophole.
“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” says U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Florida Republican who introduced the bill with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat. “Signing this bill into law is a significant milestone for pet owners and animal lovers across the country.”
The law exempts humane euthanasia; slaughter for food; recreational activities such as hunting, trapping and fishing; medical and scientific research; normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry, or other animal management practice; and actions that are necessary to protect the life or property of a person.
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