On November 25, 2019, President Donald Trump signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT Act), making animal cruelty a federal crime. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Democratic Florida Congressman Ted Deutch and Republican Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan in the U.S. House of Representatives in October and pushed through the Senate the following month by Democratic Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and Republican Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey.
The new legislation bans intentional suffocating, drowning, burning, crushing (including animal crush videos), impalement, or other serious harm of living non-human mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. The penalty for committing this federal crime is a federal prison term of up to seven years and/or a fine.
Animal welfare activists said a federal law was required, even though each state already has animal cruelty laws. However, there was no federal law that prosecutes animal cruelty offenses that spanned multiple jurisdictions or states.
Before the PACT Act, the Animal Welfare Act was signed into law in 1966 and regulates animal treatment in research, distribution, and exhibition, directly addressing puppy mills and animal fighting. Then, President Barack Obama signed the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 that bans the depiction of animal cruelty to satisfy a crush fetish.
The new law was signed on the same day President Trump welcomed Conan—the heroic canine that helped the U.S. military track down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria this past October—and honored in a Rose Garden ceremony. The PACT Act was endorsed by the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Fraternal Order of Police, law enforcement groups that claim a link exists between violence against people and extreme animal cruelty.