“We have a responsibility to honour the dignity of God’s creation. With today’s Act we take the critical step towards being more responsible and humane stewards of our planet and all who we wanna cherish and take care of and all of those who live on it” spoke President Trump as he signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) that he called “this very important piece of legislation.”
The Act makes it a federal crime for “any person to intentionally engage in animal crushing if the animals or animal crushing is in, substantially affects, or uses a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce.” Crimes are punishable with up to seven years of imprisonment.
With that signature on Monday afternoon, certain acts of animal cruelty is now officially a federal felony. It builds on previous legislation that outlawed animal fighting and making videos of such acts.
The bill was originally introduced by two Florida lawmakers, Representative Ted Deutch, a Democrat, and Representative Vern Buchanan, a Republican. It enjoyed cross-party support and was passed unanimously in the Senate on 5th November after unanimous approval in the House at the end of October.
Mr Buchanan commented that bringing the bill into law “is a significant milestone for pet owners and animal lovers across the country.”
Statement about American values
The legislation was welcomed by Kitty Block, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States who said that making acts of cruelty a crime “makes a statement about American values. 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.”
Chris Schindler, vice president of field services at the Humane Rescue Alliance, said: “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. The PACT Act is a necessary tool for us to provide further protections for animals and our community, and will ensure some of the most horrific acts of animal cruelty are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
PACT does not apply to people who slaughter animals for food or to those who activities of hunting, setting traps and fishing. Nevertheless, an important step has been taken to recognise that animals are sentient beings that have emotions and can feel pain. PACT is an important milestone in giving animals some basic rights to be treated with due care.
The Act does not in any way affect the lives of the millions of animals who are systematically abused in the industrial food production chain.
PACT is now continuing the trend for greater US animal welfare legislation. The EPA recently announced that all animal testing would be phased out by 2035.