WASHINGTON – President Trump yesterday signed into law landmark legislation cosponsored by the New Hampshire Congressional delegation to make animal cruelty a federal crime. The bipartisan Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act outlaws individuals from intentionally crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise causing serious bodily injury to animals. While existing federal law prohibits animal fighting and the distribution of so-called “animal crushing” videos, there had been no federal ban against animal cruelty and torture.
“Callous cruelty towards animals is abhorrent, and it’s time for the punishment to reflect the seriousness of the crime,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen said. “I’m glad to see this bipartisan legislation signed into law so that those who needlessly harm animals are held accountable.”
“This new law is vital not only to help prevent the horrific crime of animal torture, but also because such cruelty against animals can often be a precursor to violent crimes against humans,” Senator Maggie Hassan said. “I’m grateful to my colleagues from both parties, and the President, for coming together to support this landmark measure.”
“This legislation officially recognizes and punishes animal cruelty for the appalling crime it is,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “In addition to protecting animals and holding people who abuse them accountable, the PACT Act will also keep Americans safe, as committing animal cruelty is often a warning sign that someone may commit crimes against people as well. I’m pleased my colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together in support of this much-needed legislation, and I’m glad it has been signed into law.”
“Animals play a foundational role in the lives of Granite Staters and people across the country,” said Congressman Chris Pappas. “Whether they are used for service and support, security, farming and agriculture, or simply a beloved household pet, animals should never be subjected to torture and cruelty and the people who commit such crimes should be punished. I am pleased that President Trump signed this legislation that fills needed gaps in existing state laws and safeguards the wellbeing of animals across jurisdictions.”
The U.S. Senate passed the PACT Act unanimously on November 5th, 2019, and the U.S. House of Representatives passed it on October 23rd, 2019.
Despite taking steps in 2010 to ban the sale of videos depicting animal crushing, Congress had failed to make the underlying act of crushing a federal crime. This meant that – even when there is overwhelming evidence that torture is taking place – federal law enforcement had been unable to protect animals from abuse or even arrest known abusers. The PACT Act is the first federal legislation of its kind and would ensure that individuals found guilty of torturing animals face felony charges, fines, and up to seven years in prison.
The PACT Act is endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Wellness Action, National Sheriffs' Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. Animal abuse can often be the precursor to other violent crimes; one study found that nearly 40 percent of animal abusers had committed violent crimes against humans.