Animal cruelty to be renewed as a felony

Read the original article by Kate Santich at here.

Two Florida congressmen have reintroduced a bipartisan bill that would make malicious acts of animal cruelty and bestiality a felony under federal law.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch, D-West Boca, and Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, addresses “crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals” as well as sexually exploiting them. Those convicted of the crime could face up to seven years in prison.

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Buchanan said as the bill was reintroduced Wednesday.

Deutch called the effort “commonsense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws,” noting that a 2010 law aimed at stopping animal “crush” videos — which showed animals being subjected to mutilation — did not go far enough.

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“We’ve acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos. Now it’s time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well,” he said.

The Humane Society of the United States applauded the move and agreed it would close a loophole in the 2010 law, which only applied when a video was being produced.

The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed the PACT Act twice before, and it earned 284 bipartisan House cosponsors and over 200 law enforcement endorsements in the previous session of Congress. But in the House, the measure was blocked from coming to the floor by former Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who is no longer in Congress.

Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said the bill has a better chance of passage this session. She also said it could reduce other types of crime.

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“Decades ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recognized the seriousness of animal cruelty and its link to escalating violence toward humans,” she said.

The bill contains exceptions for normal veterinary care, hunting and conduct necessary to protect life or property from a serious threat caused by an animal.

Also on Wednesday, lawmakers reintroduced the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which would prohibit the import, export, possession and distribution of shark fins and products containing shark fins.

Although most of the demand for shark fins is in Asia, government records show that in 2017 the U.S. imported shark products worth more than $1.6 million — much of it to meet the demand for shark fin soup. Shark “finning” involves slicing off the fins and dumping the rest of the shark back into the ocean to drown, bleed to death or be eaten alive.

The measure was introduced by Reps. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, D-Northern Mariana Islands, and Michael McCaul, R-Texas.

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