WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill making certain types of animal cruelty a federal felony.
The House unanimously passed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act on Tuesday afternoon, which criminalizes certain acts of animal cruelty.
The bi-partisan bill was introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate, ABC News reports.
"This bill sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals. We've received support from so many Americans from across the country and across the political spectrum," Deutch said in a statement. "I'm deeply thankful for all of the advocates who helped us pass this bill, and I look forward to the Senate's swift passage and the President's signature."
The bill is an expansion on the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which made the creation and distribution of "animal crushing" videos illegal. The underlying acts, which were not included in the 2010 bill, are part of the PACT Act.
The PACT Act would make 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," according to a fact sheet of the bill.
The act is limited to interstate commerce and federal property and would not interfere with local animal cruelty laws or enforcement.
"The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," Buchanan said.
The president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Sara Amundson, applauded the passing of the bill.
"Over the course of 30 years in animal protection, I have encountered terrible animal cruelties, but acts of intentional torture are the most disturbing because they demonstrate how some people treat the most vulnerable in our society," Amundson said in a statement. "These malicious acts deserve federal scrutiny and action. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials will finally have the tools they need to bring those responsible for cruelty to animals to justice."