Bill to Make Animal Cruelty a Federal Felony Unanimously Passed in Senate

A bill which would make nearly all forms of animal cruelty a federal felony offense looks set to be passed into law after it was unanimously approved by the Senate.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act was introduced by Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan and Democrat Ted Deutch after it was passed by the House of Representatives on October 22.

The bill aims to close a loophole which existed following the introduction of the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which banned so-called "crush videos."

Crush videos are extreme acts of animal cruelty and torture—including stepping on, mutilating or skinning animals alive— which are posted online.

The law made it illegal to create or distribute such a video but the "crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or other animal cruelty" could not be prosecuted as a federal crime.

The PACT Act is now expected to be passed into law when it arrives at the desk of President Donald Trump in the near future.

"Preventing animal cruelty is not partisan; it's part of our values as a country. I'm proud that this legislation moved so swiftly through Congress, with such broad bipartisan support," Deutch said in a statement.

"Our country needs a federal law to prevent abuse against animals. After years of hard work by so many to build support for this bill, we are now one signature away from it becoming the law of the land."

The bipartisan passing of the bill was met with praise by The Humane Society of the United States.

"The PACT Act has now passed out of both the House and Senate and just needs to be signed by the President for the U.S to have a federal anti-cruelty statute," the group said. "This is a huge win for animals and it could not have happened without YOUR commitment."

After the bill was passed in the House, Buchanan said: "The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

"Passing the PACT Act sends a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated. Protecting animals from cruelty is a top priority for me and I will continue to work with Congressman Deutch to get this important bill signed into law."

The bill provides exceptions to certain acts of animal cruelty. These include normal and customary veterinary procedures and the slaughter of animals for food.

Hunting, trapping, fishing, and any other sporting activity not otherwise prohibited by federal law are exempt, as well as pest or predator control and acts of scientific or medical research.

Anyone convicted under the bill would face a maximum of seven years in prison.

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A stray dog is pictured in a cage at a shelter in Sofia on April 3, 2012. the U.S. Senate unanimously voted a bill which will make animal cruelty a federal felony. DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty
Bill to Make Animal Cruelty a Federal Felony Unanimously Passed in Senate | U.S.