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PACT Act heightens animal cruelty to federal felony

Posted at 5:59 PM, Oct 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 19:51:32-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A newly introduced bill is aimed at preventing animal cruelty and torture.
It was passed by the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act or PACT Act makes it a federal crime for people to intentionally engage in cruelty such as "animal crushing" -- which is often recorded and sold on video.
This bipartisan bill -- which was passed unanimously -- makes extreme types of animal cruelty a federal felony under the act.
"It's very exciting that we have our legislators and out elected officials at the federal level interested in pursuing and holding people accountable for animal cruelty," Animal Care Services Director Mike Gillis.
The bill is specific to cruelty taking place on federal property and interstate commerce.
"Say a federal park for example -- if any type of animal cruelty would happen there -- a state doesn't have jurisdiction and there is no federal law covering it," Gillis said.
The bill -- led by two Florida congressmen -- sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals.
Gulf Coast Humane Society Executive Director Sharon Ray said the bill is moving in the right direction by "fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves." She also said that she hopes to see more of these changes locally as well.
Gillis said local police departments and the district attorney's office are supportive of pursuing these cases because they want to curtail the cruelty that does occur in town.
"Animal cruelty cases are abhorrent and those committing them must absolutely be held accountable," Nueces County First Assistant District Attorney Matt Manning said.
He said the Texas law makes it a third degree felony -- which is up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine -- to torture or kill an animal.
"The punishments are serious and should be to deter this kind of heinous conduct," Manning said. "This House measure makes certain animal cruelty acts subject to federal jurisdiction."
He said they welcome the federal authorities as partners in the fight against the torture and abuse of animals and stand committed to seeking justice where animals have been victimized.
"I have an ongoing case right now where we are pursuing a third-degree felony for animal torture," Gillis said.
Under the act, people can be prosecuted for crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and sexually exploiting animals.