Legislation would make animal cruelty a federal felony

Two Florida lawmakers have introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would make animal cruelty a federal felony.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, and Rep. Ted Deutsch, D-Boca Raton, introduced the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act.

If passed, anyone convicted of "crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling animals," or of sexually abusing animals, could face up to seven years in prison.

"My bill with Rep Ted Deutch has overwhelming bipartisan support. Glad this issue is receiving the attention it deserves," Congressman Buchanan tweeted.

Christin Burford, with the organization Creating Animal Respect Education agrees and adds that the legislation is long overdue. She explains that a pit bull under their watch has come along way, since it was found abandoned on the highway.  It is believed to have been a bait dog for a dog-fighting operation.

"Her entire head and face were just torn up... they'll be put on a lease and a dog being trained to fight will aggressively tear her up," she said. "Anyone that does something like that to an animal, they have no conscience, no soul. They'll do that to people."

The bill aims to close a loophole in a 2010 law, which only punished abuse in videos.  According to the Orlando Sentinel, this is not the first time the PACT Act has been introduced in Congress. The Senate passed the bill twice before, and had bipartisan support in the House with 284 co-sponsors.

However, the act never made it to the House floor because it was blocked by former Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a republican from Virginia who is no longer in Congress.