THE US has passed a bill making animal cruelty a federal crime – and abusers could face seven years in jail.
The PACT Act, which stands for Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture, was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The US has passed a bill making animal cruelty a federal crime[/caption]
Under the act, an individual can be prosecuted for crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling animals and sexually exploiting them.
The legislation contains exceptions for hunting.
Those convicted would face federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison.
Currently, federal law only explicitly prohibits animal fighting and only criminalises wrongdoers when they create and sell videos depicting the actual animal cruelty.
The PACT Act allows authorities to go after the wrongdoers because they will have federal jurisdiction and will not be bound by state laws.
They can also prosecute criminals if the cruelty occurs on federal property.
The bipartisan act, introduced by Florida congressmen Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan, will revise a previous law passed in 2010.
“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Mr Buchanan said.
“Passing the PACT Act sends a strong message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Mr Deutch said in a statement: “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.”
He added: “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.”
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The bill follows 2010’s Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act made the creation and distribution of animal crushing videos illegal.
However, the actual underlying acts of animal cruelty were not included.
According to a press release from Deutch, the PACT Act “closes this loophole by prohibiting certain cases of animal abuse”.
Under the act, an individual can be prosecuted for crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals[/caption]