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house Bill H.R. 724

Should Animal Torture Be a Federal Crime?

Argument in favor

Animal torture is an unconscionable crime that shouldn’t be tolerated at the federal level. Criminalizing this horrific crime at the federal level will make it easier to prosecute, and will bring federal law in line with state laws, which universally criminalize animal torture.

BadWxDude's Opinion
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02/20/2019
Torturing anything, including people, including refugees, should be illegal. Start there.
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Joselyn 's Opinion
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02/20/2019
Why is this even a question? People who torture and kill animals should be punished!!
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Brian's Opinion
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02/20/2019
Basic psychology says that The people that could do this are likely doing equally horrible things across many aspects of their life. Accountability and punishment should be significant enough to deter this hiddeous behavior!
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Argument opposed

Since animal torture is already illegal in all fifty states, there’s no need for an additional federal law criminalizing it. When these cases cross state lines, prosecutors can work together to determine which jurisdiction the crime occurred in, and prosecute accordingly.

godquestion's Opinion
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02/20/2019
States already have laws against torturing animals. I see no reason for the federal government to usurp even more state power by legislating this at the federal level. What is the point of making a law to prohibit behavior that is already prohibited by law?
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Carolyn's Opinion
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02/20/2019
should we not be more concerned about child abuse,and what is happening to those minor immigrant children? the rapes of young children,age 1 year,s years,and 5 years.., the violators got nothing for 1 year old,18 mos. for raping 3 year old,18 mos. house arrest for raping 5 year old repeatedly.. I say we need better protection for these children,trump is not d
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Trisha's Opinion
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02/20/2019
It’s not that this isn’t a horrible crime but the state should certainly be able to dole out harsh punishment without involving the federal government.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate Passed on a voice vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed on a voice vote
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedJanuary 23rd, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 724?

This bill, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, would strengthen the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which made the depiction of animal cruelty a crime but didn’t establish penalties for committing the act of animal cruelty. This bill would make it a federal crime for any person to crush, burn, drown, suffocate, impale, sexually exploit, or otherwise torture animals across state lines. It’d also make it a federal crime to engage in animal crushing on federal property. People convicted under this act would face federal felony charges, fines, and up to seven years in prison.

This bill wouldn’t preempt or interfere with local animal cruelty laws or enforcement. It’d be a federal overlay, exactly like the federal animal fighting law. It also contains exceptions for hunting, normal veterinary care, and conduct needed to protect life or property for a serious threat caused by an animal.

Impact

Animals; animal torturers; federal prosecutors; and federal criminal code.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 724

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to criminalize animal crushing:

“This is commonsense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws. For many Americans, animal welfare is an important policy issue, and the idea of animal abuse is abhorrent. By building on state and local laws, Congress should act to guarantee a level of protection for animals across the country by criminalizing these inhumane acts. We've acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos; now it's time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well."

Original cosponsor Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) added:

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Protecting animals from cruelty is a top priority for me and I look forward to working with Congressman Deutch on this important issue.”

The Humane Society supports this bill. Sara Amundson, President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, says:

“Decades ago[,] the Federal Bureau of Investigation recognized the seriousness of animal cruelty and its link to escalating violence toward humans. All 50 states have felony provisions for animal cruelty and so a parallel federal statute is long overdue to crack down and fill gaps in the law. Representatives Deutch and Buchanan are tremendous advocates for animal protection, and we are grateful to them for seeking to eradicate malicious cruelty.”

Amundson adds that a federal statute is needed to ensure that interstate animal cruelty is punished:

“[S]tates cannot prohibit cruelty that occurs in interstate commerce or across state lines. We need to ensure that we have a federal anti-cruelty statute to prevent such horrid conduct… [This] bill provides law enforcement with the tools it needs to crack down on egregious animal cruelty on federal property or in interstate commerce. Animal cruelty isn’t self-contained by state but moves across state lines, so this bill is critical to stomping out crime. It’s supported by law enforcement, prosecuting attorneys and the Humane Society Legislative Fund.”

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States and Executive Vice President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, says:

“It’s past due for the federal government to enact a strong anti-cruelty law, to complement the state laws against malicious mistreatment of animals. We know that there is a correlation between vicious cruelty to animals and violence against humans… Our nation should have a zero tolerance policy for violence against innocent animals.”

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) contends that this bill protects not just animals, but also humans, from acts of violence due to the link between cruelty to animals and other forms of violence:

“Preventing and punishing [animal] cruelty is both an animal welfare and a public health imperative. More and more, the law enforcement and legal communities recognize that animal cruelty is both a serious crime in and of itself and a precursor or gateway to other violent crimes… By providing law enforcement and the criminal justice system with another tool for responding to such unspeakable acts of animal cruelty, the PACT Act protects our communities from many forms of violence.”

This bill has 181 bipartisan cosponsors, including 137 Democrats and 44 Republicans. Last Congress, it was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) with the support of 283 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 183 Democrats and 100 Republicans. However, former Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) kept it from coming to the floor for a vote. Since Rep. Goodlatte is no longer in Congress, supporters of this bill are more optimistic about its odds of House passage in the current Congress. Last Congress, this bill’s Senate companion (S.654), sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), passed the Senate unanimously with the support of 36 bipartisan cosponsors, including 33 Democrats, three Republicans, and one Independent.

This bill has the support of the Humane Society of the United States, National Sheriffs Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Humane Farming Association, and over 200 law enforcement agencies across the U.S.


Of NoteAnimal crush videos” are videos in which individuals kill, mutilate, and torture small animals as a form of entertainment to be shared online. While Congress prohibited the creation and dissemination of these videos under the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, the underlying acts themselves remain legal under federal law.

Currently, all 50 states have laws on the books criminalizing animal cruelty on the state level. However, when animals being tortured cross state lines, individual states’ jurisdictions end, making it impossible for state prosecutors to bring charges. This bill would allow authorities to go after wrongdoers with federal jurisdiction.

Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) notes that it can be difficult to prosecute animal cruelty under state law due to jurisdictional issues:

“[The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act] was a crucial step to take. However, that law does not cover the underlying acts of animal cruelty themselves, which are generally offenses under state law subject to prosecution by the states. However, since it isn’t always known where the actual acts of cruelty took place, it can be hard to bring a case under state law.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Cylonphoto)

AKA

Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act

Official Title

To revise section 48 of title 18, United States Code, and for other purposes.

    Torturing anything, including people, including refugees, should be illegal. Start there.
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    States already have laws against torturing animals. I see no reason for the federal government to usurp even more state power by legislating this at the federal level. What is the point of making a law to prohibit behavior that is already prohibited by law?
    Like (80)
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    Why is this even a question? People who torture and kill animals should be punished!!
    Like (134)
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    Basic psychology says that The people that could do this are likely doing equally horrible things across many aspects of their life. Accountability and punishment should be significant enough to deter this hiddeous behavior!
    Like (105)
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    Yes - defenseless animals NEED to be protected - laws need more bite. A slap on the hand of cruelty is not enough.
    Like (65)
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    Animal abuse of any kind should be a federal offense and carry heftier fines and jail time. Just because animals do not have vocabulary we can understand doesn’t mean they don’t feel.
    Like (55)
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    What one does to innocent animals could lead to similar acts on humans. Avert the dangers.
    Like (47)
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    No doubt about it. Statistics show that those who torture animals have a propensity to move on to humans. Perhaps, if we intervene early enough, this will stop that cycle and save lives! Sorry, but I need to add that we should not be eating horses and we should stop abusing them at rodeos! Go online, people, and see the abuse they endure to “perform” for you. It is absolutely unconscionable and heartbreaking to ANY person who cares about animals. I thought rodeo people loved and respected these animals. I was SO WRONG! Please stop this, too!
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    Yes, along with tearing children away from their family at the border, along with lynching, along with actual human torture, sorry, "enhanced interrogation," along with any form of violence.
    Like (28)
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    Most serial killers have a history of animal torture. If they can do that to an animal they are more than likely prone to other violent acts and a threat to society. They probably also need therapy.
    Like (27)
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    should we not be more concerned about child abuse,and what is happening to those minor immigrant children? the rapes of young children,age 1 year,s years,and 5 years.., the violators got nothing for 1 year old,18 mos. for raping 3 year old,18 mos. house arrest for raping 5 year old repeatedly.. I say we need better protection for these children,trump is not d
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    Absolutely without question it should be a federal crime.
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    It’s not that this isn’t a horrible crime but the state should certainly be able to dole out harsh punishment without involving the federal government.
    Like (22)
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    The cruelty in which many animals endure at the hands of depraved humans is unimaginable. Please help to prevent this type of cruelty by making it more punishable by law. Those without a voice deserve this protection.
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    People who torture animals must be punished appropriately. A slap on the wrist doesn’t stop them from reoffending against helpless animals.
    Like (16)
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    In principal, torture of any kind (malicious intent to harm), including of animals, is heinous and should absolutely be a federal crime; neglect should be captured in here as well. State protections have shown to not be enough, and state laws don’t cross state lines - which it sounds like this bill tries to address. Beyond that, there is a ton of research that shows that people who inflict harm on animals - regardless of size or species - are far more likely to inflict harm on people. All frameworks point to making animal abuse of *any kind* a federal crime.
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    Animals deserve to be treated with the same dignity as humans. What we do to them shows more than anything how barbaric humans really are. It needs to stop and we need to be better than that.
    Like (14)
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    How we treat the least of those among us says clearly and loudly to the world what our true character and intentions are.
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    It should require mandatory prison time on the first offense and be eligible for life sentence on the second. Perhaps it should be named in honor of Michael Vick, one of the greatest animal abusers.
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    Animals play an integral role in the lives of humanity. For many its food, and clothes. But for the majority it is as a life companion. How can we not protect the animals in our lives that act as our eyes, ears and emergency responders. Pets as companions aka best friend should enjoy a level of respect that in very least says "we will protect you, friend." Yes, people who are setting out with the intent to harm a defenseless creature, absolutely deserves to be reprimanded by a federal crime
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