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Florida lawmakers push bill to make animal cruelty a nationwide felony

Medical crews headed to an emergency is sidetracked by what one local captain sees: a group of what she calls malnourished pit bulls, one of them in very bad shape.
Medical crews headed to an emergency is sidetracked by what one local captain sees: a group of what she calls malnourished pit bulls, one of them in very bad shape.

WASHINGTON – A new bill introduced by two congressmen would make malicious acts of animal cruelty and bestiality a felony under federal law, The Orlando Sentinel reports

Those convicted of the crime could face up to seven years in prison.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act addresses “crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals” as well as sexually exploiting them," WESH reports. 

"In so-called “crush videos,” individuals viciously torture, mutilate, and kill small animals to satisfy the bizarre fetishes of viewers," Animal Welfare Institute reports

The act is sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch, D-West Boca, and Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. 

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Protecting animals from cruelty is a top priority for me and I look forward to working with Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch on this important issue,” Buchanan wrote on Twitter.

"In 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act (PL 111-294),1 banning the creation and distribution of these videos. This was a crucial step to take. However, that law does not cover the underlying acts of animal cruelty themselves, which are generally offenses under state law subject to prosecution by the states, Animal Welfare Institute reports

The website states, to close that loophole and address these egregious forms of abuse, the PACT Act would do the following:

  • Define “animal crushing” as “actual conduct in which 1 or more [animals] is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury…”
  • Prohibit intentionally engaging in “animal crushing in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce,”2 whether or not committed for the purpose of creating a crush video. (For example, the PACT Act would allow for charges to be brought against a puppy mill operator who drowns unwanted dogs if he is engaged in interstate activity.)
  • Enable federal intervention when the cruelty extends beyond the reach or resources of state prosecutors.
  • Ban the creation and distribution of crush videos.
  • Provide for felony charges, fines, and up to seven years in prison.

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