By: Annie Mullican

File:Happy dog.jpg

These days, it is hard to read an article or get on any form or social media or television without hearing about politics, and how terrible everything is. Every headline is a scandal or a mean quote by one public figure about another public figure. I gave up looking forward to a time when Democrats and Republicans would begin to work together years ago. But I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a news article about the PACT Act that is projected to be passed by Congress this session. The PACT Act stands for the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture, and it is a bill that would make animal cruelty a federal felony. Having taken an Animal Law class, I am keenly aware of the little protections that animals are afforded legally. However, I think many people both in law school and throughout the country will be most shocked by this law because they will realize that animal cruelty is actually not a federal felony. Videos depicting animal cruelty are considered a federal crime, but the underlying acts of cruelty themselves right now are not, which makes no sense. In my opinion, this law is monumental for our government in many ways right now.

 

The men behind this movement are two Florida congressmen: Ted Deutch (Democrat) and Vern Buchanan (Republican).[1] These two congressmen say that they believe this law will close a large gap in our federal laws.[2] Right now, all 50 states have laws that outlaw animal cruelty at the state level.[3] However, if those criminals were to take animals across state lines, the original state would have no jurisdiction, and thus no power to go after those criminals.[4] I think these two Congressmen are right – this bill will close a gaping gap in our country’s laws federal laws, and immensely aid law enforcement in catching abusers – especially those involved in animal fighting. Congressman Ted Deutch stated, “This is common sense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws.”[5] So, if this is such a common sense law (which it is) why hasn’t it been passed already? According to these two Congressmen, in the past, the PACT Act has received unanimous support in the Senate, with over 284 bipartisan House cosponsors.[6] In fact, the only reason the act has not passed in the past, according to these Congressmen was because House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte prevented it from coming to the floor.[7] The Congressmen are optimistic that the bill may be passed with new Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) serving.[8] The bill of course contains exceptions for hunting, veterinary care, or any actions to protect life or property from a serious threat from an animal.[9]

 

I, too, am optimistic about this law. In a world where it feels like values and compassion have been abandoned, it is very nice to know that kindness and compassion for our furry friends is what continues to bring people together.

[1] Proposed law could make animal cruelty a federal felony,”WECT NEWS, (Jan. 28, 2019) http://www.wect.com/2019/01/28/proposed-law-would-make-animal-cruelty-federal-felony/

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Cole Higgins, “A Proposed Law will Make Animal Cruelty a Federal Felony,” CNN, (Jan. 28, 2019) https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/28/us/animal-cruelty-federal-felony-bill-trnd/index.html

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Christopher Brito, “Proposed Law Would Make Animal Cruelty a Felony Across the U.S.” CBS, (Jan. 28, 2019) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/animal-cruelty-bill-re-introduced-congress-pact-vern-buchanan-ted-deutch/

[9] Id.

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