WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill that makes animal cruelty a federal crime has passed Congress, and the president signed it into law on Monday.
The Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act is a federal ban on animal cruelty, outlawing purposeful crushing, burning, drowning, suffocation, impalement or other violence causing serious bodily injury to animals. Those convicted would face federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison.
California Rep. John Garamendi tweeted confirmation of the bill signed into law.
“Good news: The bipartisan legislation I cosponsored to make animal cruelty a federal crime was signed into law today!” he tweeted on Monday. “I'm pleased that Republicans and Democrats came together in bipartisan fashion to support this critical bill.”
The PACT Act would make it easier to prosecute those involved in the gruesome killing of animals.
“Most people are shocked to know that the U.S. does not have a federal animal cruelty law,” Animal Wellness Foundation Director of Federal Affairs Holly Gann said in an October press release.
The bill was first introduced in January by Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.,and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., to criminalize certain acts of animal cruelty that were not included in the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which was signed into law in 2010.
It aims to close a loophole in the 2010 law, which only punished abuse in videos. That law was spurred by “crush” videos, which often showed small creatures being stomped under a woman’s shoe, the Washington Post reported.
“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Buchanan said in a statement before the signing ceremony, according to the paper. “Signing this bill into law is a significant milestone for pet owners and animal lovers across the country.”
Fox TV Stations' Kelly Taylor Hayes contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.