President Trump signs law cracking down on animal cruelty

Published on November 26, 2019

Finally, something Congress and President Trump agree on: certain acts of animal cruelty should be a federal crime. 

On Monday the president signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act into law.

There was bipartisan support for the legislation. In fact it passed both the house and the senate unanimously earlier this fall.

The PACT Act

The new law, also called the PACT Act, prohibits extreme acts of cruelty when they occur in interstate commerce or on federal property.

The legislation strengthens and expands a law signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 which banned graphic videos showing animals being tortured.

Now the feds can prosecute animal cruelty, even if there’s no video of the crime. If convicted, animal abusers could face up to seven years in prison, plus additional fines.

“This should have happened a long time ago and it didn’t,” President Trump said at the bill’s signing ceremony. “It is important that we combat these heinous and sadistic acts of cruelty, which are totally unacceptable in a civilized society.”  

New Law Mends Gap

All 50 states have the ability to charge those accused of animal cruelty with a felony, but until today there was no federal ban against the crime. Animal advocates said it was a gap in the law.

“After decades of work to protect animals and bearing witness to some of the worst cruelty, it’s so gratifying the Congress and president unanimously agreed that it was time to close the gap in the law and make malicious animal cruelty within federal jurisdiction a felony,” Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund said. “We cannot change the horrors of what animals have endured in the past, but we can crack down on these crimes moving forward. This is a day to celebrate.”

The new law goes into effect immediately. It does not apply to people who hunt, trap, fish or slaughter animals for food. It also does not apply to those who use animals for medial or scientific research. 

Looking for more news from Watchdog Mary on Grit Daily? Check out her full column, here.

"Watchdog" Mary Schwager is a Columnist at Grit Daily. She is a television and print journalist watch-dogging for consumers and animals. She is honored to have won 16 Emmy awards, seven Edward R. Murrow awards, and Associated Press awards for investigative reporting and writing.

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