Now that the United States has a functioning government again (at least temporarily), lawmakers are getting back to work in the best way possible: by making it illegal to hurt an animal.
Every state has some sort of animal cruelty law, but those laws vary in severity of punishment. A few states even consider animal cruelty a misdemeanor offense. However, a new bill introduced to Congress last week hopes to change that by making animal cruelty a federal felony.
Courtesy of Florida congresspeople Rep. Ted Deutch and Rep. Vern Buchanan comes the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, which bans the “crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling [of] animals.” The language of the bill is very specific, although we think it might be missing a few additional verbs such as “abrading” or “exploding”.
The bill also outlaws the sexual exploitation of animals, but we’re not going to get into the specific language that was used in that section. Let’s just say the Florida representatives were very thorough in what is not okay.
Those convicted under the bill would face at least 7 years behind bars.
A previous law, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, enacted in 2010, outlawed the practice of crushing animals on film. Representative Deutch said that because the law only outlaws abuse while being filmed, the law didn’t go nearly far enough to protect the rights of animals.
“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,” Deutch told the Orlando Sentinel.
The bill was initially set to be tabled during the previous session of Congress. PACT received 284 bipartisan cosponsors as well as 200 law enforcement endorsements but was blocked from ever reaching the floor by the previous Judiciary Chairman.
In addition, the bill would make special exceptions for those working in veterinary care, hunters, and anyone being attacked by an animal (which would be considered a self-defense clause).
Also introduced last Wednesday was a bill outlawing the sale, possession, and distribution of shark fins. Although mostly a problem in Asia, America has its own growing import/export of shark fins, which are taken from a recently caught shark and used in soup. The shark is then dumped back into the ocean to bleed out.