Animal Cruelty May Soon Become a Federal Crime

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

When it comes to the treatment of animals and the law, our pets have always been looked at as property; no different than a couch or a car. However, it finally seems that they are beginning to receive more well-deserved protection as the sentient and loving beings that we know them to be. The recent signing of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act – if signed by President Trump – will make extreme acts of animal cruelty a federal felony. 

Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), co-sponsored the bill, which received great bipartisan support, was unanimously passed in both the House (by voice vote) and the Senate. “The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said Buchanan. “This is a milestone for pet owners and animal lovers across the country. For the first time, a national law has been passed by Congress to protect animals from cruelty and abuse.” Deutch agreed, explaining that the bill was simply “commonsense, bipartisan legislation” intended to show compassion to animals. 

The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, ceremoniously signed the bill. She took to Twitter to share her excitement. “Today, I was honored to sign @RepTedDeutch’s #PACTAct to make animal cruelty a federal offense. Our furry friends, Milo and Prudence were on hand to help me enroll this bipartisan legislation that will now go to the President’s desk!”

Animal Cruelty Views Evolved

Under the PACT Act, any acts of “crushing” animals are considered to be a federal crime. The bill recognizes crushing as the purposeful crushing, burning, drowning, suffocation, impalement, or serious bodily injury carried out against animals. 

In 2010, a law was implemented that made it illegal for anyone to post any videos of animal crushing on the Internet. These types of crushing videos commonly involved women in sharp high heels crushing small animals and killing them. Though the dissemination of these videos was made illegal in 1999, the Supreme Court overturned the decision worried that it would invade the people’s right to free speech. This new bill would build upon this old law, finding the underlying acts performed in those videos to be illegal. 

GOP Sen. Pat Toomey also expressed his excitement after Congress passed the bill. “Passing this legislation is a major victory in the effort to stop animal cruelty and make our communities safer,” he said. “Evidence shows that deranged individuals who harm animals often move on to committing acts of violence against people. It is appropriate that the federal government have strong animal cruelty laws and penalties.”

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If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime – regardless of a conviction – it can greatly impact your life. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Criminal Defense Attorney. At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we will fight to reduce or even eliminate your charges. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.