PACT Act would impose stricter penalties on animal abusers

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A Sarasota congressman wants to crack down on the torture of animals.

Congressman Vern Buchanan has co-introduced a bill that would make it easier to prosecute animal abusers and it’s getting national attention.

This is not the first time Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture bill, or the PACT Act, has been introduced. The Senate passed it twice with bipartisan support, but it has yet to be passed in the House.

Congressman Buchanan believes this year the bill will go through.

The bill is a result of years of cases of abuse to animals, with little repercussions for the perpetrators. A burned bunny named Thumper from Sarasota, a dog named Denali that was locked in her kennel and set on fire in Pasco County; these are two horrific cases on a seemingly endless list.

"We've seen dogs that have been involved in a fire. Dogs that have just been locked in a kennel and not given any care at all," said Terri Romano, the practice manager for the Humane Society of Manatee County.

Romano has seen many cats and dogs, barely clinging to life, brought through the facility's doors. 

"It just really stops the clinic. Everyone is concerned and everyone pulls everything they can to get that animal comfortable," she said. 

Congressman Vern Buchanan of Longboat Key wants this to end. 

"It's a big issue. It’s bigger than I even imagined when I got involved with it initially," he said. 

Congressman Buchanan and Congressman Ted Deutch introduced the federal bill that would crack down on torture and abuse of animals. 

"Theres a lot of people out there doing horrible things to animals and we’ve got to stop it and stop it now," said Congressman Buchanan. 

The PACT Act would make it easier to prosecute those involved in the gruesome killing of animals. It would make animal cruelty a federal crime and those convicted would face felony charges, fines, and up to seven years in prison. 

It's hard to believe anyone would want to abuse defenseless animals, but Bradenton Police Detective Lixa Moyette has seen the terrible consequences. 

"In some certain cases we have an owner who comes in and tells us that was an accident when we can find out no that wasn’t. This is what happened through evidence and investigation," said Det.Moyette. 

She sees dozen of abuse cases each year and believes the PACT ACT would help stop at least some of the abuse. 

"That is huge. It is really important to us to have the backup from everybody," she said.