U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his years-long support and advocacy, his legislation, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, has unanimously passed the Senate and will now head to the president’s desk for signature.
The bipartisan PACT Act, introduced in the Senate by senators Pat Toomey [R-PA], Richard Blumenthal [D-CT], Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] and Dick Durbin [D-IL], and cosponsored by Schumer, closes a loophole created by the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act.
The law criminalized the creation and distribution of videos depicting the torture of animals, but prevented federal law enforcement from prosecuting abusers.
Once the PACT Ace is signed into law, Schumer explained, criminals that are caught torturing or otherwise harming animals can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and even sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
“For far too long, animal abusers have used a loophole to avoid penalties or repercussions for their heinous acts," Schumer said. "The maiming and torturing of innocent animals is abhorrent and will now finally be a federal felony, punishable to the fullest extent of the law.
"After years of supporting the PACT Act, I’m delighted that it’s finally headed to the president to be signed and become law."
“Time and again, we’ve seen the linkage between animal cruelty and cruelty and crimes against people," said Libby Post, executive director, New York State Animal Protection Federation. "It is essential to take pro-active steps to curtail animal crimes and give law enforcement the tools they need to stop these crimes.
"Shelters across New York are partners with law enforcement and district attorneys that tackle animal cruelty. Many shelters across the state give safe harbor to the animals who survive this abuse. The New York State Animal Protection Federation stands with Senator Schumer in fighting animal crimes and thanks him for standing up for animals. The PACT Act is a crucial step forward and we have Senator Schumer to thank for it."
Though Schumer supported the PACT Act during the last two Congresses as well, it ultimately failed to pass in the House of Representatives. The PACT Act was reintroduced this year by Senators Blumenthal, Toomey, Feinstein and Durbin, and garnered a bipartisan group of 41 cosponsors, including Schumer.
Despite the federal animal crush video law enacted in 2010, banning the creation, sale, and distribution of videos that show live animals being intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or subjected to other heinous abuse, Congress failed to make the act of crushing a federal crime.
Therefore, even when there was overwhelming and substantiated evidence that torture is taking place, current federal law only prohibits and criminalizes animal cruelty if the offenders create and sell videos depicting the abuse, leaving federal law enforcement unable to arrest known abusers or protect the animals. The PACT Act ensures that those found guilty of torturing animals face fines, felony charges, and up to seven years in prison.
The PACT Act is supported by the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Wellness Action, National Sheriffs' Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and more than 200 law enforcement agencies across the country.
The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the companion bill on Oct. 23 with 301 cosponsors.