Animal Cruelty Is Now A Federal Crime In The United States

In a major victory for animals across the nation, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) officially became law this week.

For decades, activists have been seeking stronger animal cruelty laws at the federal level, something they got in 2010 when former President Barack Obama signed a 2010 bill into law. Unfortunately, that bill was not quite strong enough.

This new law, which expands upon the 2010 law, allows federal prosecutors to better pursue cases across state lines as well as pour more resources into cases to catch perpetrators. In addition, it punishes violators with up to seven years in prison and hefty fines.

“This bill is particularly important to us as the only humane law enforcement agency in D.C.,” Humane Rescue Alliance vice-president Chris Schindler told CBS News. “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.”

To date, it is one of the strongest laws on the books to help out our furry friends, and it actually sailed through Congress in a rare bipartisan effort that is being hailed by animal rights groups everywhere.

“PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level,” Humane Society of the United States CEO and President Kitty Block said in a statement praising the new law. “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.”

“After decades of work to protect animals and bearing witness to some of the worst cruelty, it’s so gratifying the Congress and president unanimously agreed that it was time to close the gap in the law and make malicious animal cruelty within federal jurisdiction a felony,” Humane Society Legislative Fund chief Sara Amundson said in a statement. “We cannot change the horrors of what animals have endured in the past, but we can crack down on these crimes moving forward. This is a day to celebrate.”

Indeed, it is a day to celebrate, but there is still more that must be done in regards to factory farms and the treatment of livestock that are raised and slaughtered to put food on our tables. These animals deserve dignity and rights such as being able to turn or stand in their pens and not be pumped full of antibiotics and steroids. They should be well taken care of from birth up to the moment of slaughter.

And good luck getting bipartisanship in Congress to improve life for livestock because many conservative lawmakers are reluctant to do anything that will anger a major donor.

Still, this law is a win for animals and proves that change can happen if enough people unite to make it so.

Featured Image: Wikimedia/

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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