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New Law Makes Animal Cruelty a Federal Crime



For years, every state in the nation has drafted its own laws pertaining to animal cruelty. In November of 2019, however, President Trump signed a new bill into law that makes animal cruelty a federal crime.

The move is significant, and builds on a law President Obama signed during his time in office. The old law prohibited what is known as ‘crush videos.’ These videos depict animal cruelty and, as a result, could result in a federal charge. However, many critics stated that the issue with this old law is that it did not hold people accountable for any acts of cruelty they may have carried out on an animal. The new law does.

Known as the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT), it is now a federal crime to suffocate, crush, burn, or drown any living animal. All animals are written into the law, including birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The bill was passed in the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority on both sides of the aisle.

“Many believe that the new law was necessary, as there were still many acts of cruelty being conducted, and even videotaped, with little regard given to Obama’s bill,” says Attorney Rammy Barbari or Price Benowitz LLP. “It is crucial, however, that law enforcement does not become over eager in charging and prosecuting people. Like any law, not everyone charged is guilty and there are some important exceptions even with this humane bill.”

Those exceptions apply to hunting, medical research, and the legal euthanization of animals. Although individuals partaking in these activities cannot be charged under the new law, they must still be allowed to do their jobs and remain protected under the law. Furthermore, like with any law, it is possible that these groups may be the most vulnerable to unfair charges and prosecution. Hopefully, PACT only does what it was intended to, and protects more animals from harm.


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