Over the last few years, we've seen the implementation of tougher animal cruelty laws across the country. While The Animal Welfare Act of 1966 addresses the mistreatment of animals, the issue is often handled at the state level.
In 2017, a number of U.S. jurisdictions implemented animal offenders registries. These databases publicly reveal the names of animal abusers in a given area, similar to how sex offenders are registered. Convicted abusers must pay a $50 registration fine. Those who are over 18 must supply a recent photo to be uploaded. Failure to register could result in jail time and a fine of up to $1,000.
More recently, the state of Michigan introduced new laws regarding animal abuse. The maximum sentence is now up to 10 years in prison for killing or torturing an animal. The penalty for killing an animal with the intention to inflict emotional distress on another person is also punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Now, the issue of animal cruelty is finally being addressed at the federal level. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, which is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump this week, will make the mistreatment of animals a federal felony. The act makes it a 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.” Those who are convicted face a hefty fine and up to seven years in prison.
PACT, a bipartisan bill, was reintroduced to Congress earlier this year by Florida Congressmen Rep. Ted Deutch, D-West Boca, and Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota.
The act, which is part of the $867 billion farm bill passed last December, also expanded the definition of stalking to include "conduct that causes a person to experience a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury to his or her pet." This means that it is now considered a crime to threaten the welfare of someone's pet.
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,” said Deutch in a previous 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 PACT act will not only protect animals from harm, it has the potential to reduce crimes again humans.
"Decades ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recognized the seriousness of animal cruelty and its link to escalating violence toward humans," Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund told People in an interview from earlier in the year.