The PACT Act: Working Towards Ending Animal Cruelty

By Amanda Roland

As we await Wellness360’s upcoming pet issue, we have great news for pet lovers! Animal cruelty is officially a federal crime thanks to the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT, signed in November. People who violate the act may face federal prosecution, fines and up to seven years’ jail time.

It specifically outlaws “animal crushing.” This form of animal abuse refers to when “one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians are purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury,” according to the Congress website. And this extends to those who create or distribute videos of this animal abuse. The PACT Act protects most animals, but it also makes exceptions for hunting, fishing, scientific research and the meat industry.

Although each state already has its own laws on animal cruelty, this new federal ban makes it a nationwide felony. The PACT Act, first introduced by Florida House representatives, strengthens a 2010 law that criminalizes animal cruelty videos, targeting a disturbing genre of “crush” videos showing small creatures being stomped under a woman’s shoe. Unfortunately, it only banned the distribution of animal crush videos, not the crime itself.

The only other federal regulation until now was the Animal Welfare Act, passed in 1966. It set a minimum standard in regulating animal treatment, which mainly applied to zoos, research labs and puppy mills. It didn’t prevent any intentional cruelty outside of these instances. The PACT Act is a great leap forward for pro-animal activists and a step further in ending animal cruelty.