Thursday, October 24, 2019

Animal cruelty may soon become a federal offense

Animal cruelty would become a federal offense with a penalty of up to seven years in prison under a proposed expansion of an animal welfare law that won unanimous approval this week in the House of Representatives, reports the New York Times.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act advanced through the House on Tuesday after a voice vote, which the law’s backers said they hoped would get the Senate to act soon on a companion bill.
Most of the animal cruelty laws on the books are at the state level, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
The legislation would expand a 2010 law signed by President Barack Obama banning so-called crush videos that show animals being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or subjected to other forms of torture. In some of the videos, women with their faces hidden could be seen stamping on rabbits with spiked high heels.
Animal welfare advocates said that while the current law prohibited the production and distribution of crush videos, it had failed to address the animal cruelty depicted in them. So Representatives Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan, who are both from Florida and serve on opposite sides of the political aisle, sought to broaden the law.
“This bill sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals,” Mr. Deutch, a Democrat, said in a statement. “We’ve received support from so many Americans from across the country and across the political spectrum.”
“Animal rights activists have stood up for living things that do not have a voice,” he continued. “Law enforcement officers have sought a federal overlay to help them stop animal abusers who are likely to commit acts of violence against people. And animal lovers everywhere know this is simply the right thing to do.”
Mr. Buchanan, a Republican, said in a statement that the bill’s prospects of becoming law were favorable.
“This is a landmark bill that establishes for the first time a federal offense against the malicious torturing of animals,” Mr. Buchanan said.
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