President Donald Trump is expected to sign a bipartisan bill Monday to officially designate animal cruelty as a federal felony.
The bill, Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, which criminalizes severe treatment and exploitation of animals, passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Nov. 5 after being approved by the House in October and has been presented to the president.
Sen. Pat Toomey, (R-Pa.) — a Senate co-sponsor of the bill with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) — called the bill "a major victory" in the effort to "stop animal cruelty and make our communities safer" earlier this month, according to ABC News.
"Evidence shows that the 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," he added.
What are the details?
The bill — which was introduced in January by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) — will punish the crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, or impaling of animals or any other treatment that subjects the animal to serious bodily injury, and could carry a punishment of up to seven years in federal prison.
"The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," Buchanan said when introducing the bill in January.
A bill that punishes the video distribution of animal crushing, called the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, was passed into law in 2010, but the introducers of the new legislation felt that the 2010 bill didn't go far enough.
"We've acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos. Now it's time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well," Deutch added.
The bill does include an outline of general exceptions, describing treatment of animals that will not be considered animal cruelty by law.
A list of the exceptions from the text of the bill includes:
- a customary and normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry, or other animal management practice;
- the slaughter of animals for food;
- hunting, trapping, fishing, a sporting activity not otherwise prohibited by federal law, predator control, or pest control;
- medical or scientific research;
- necessary to protect the life or property of a person; or
- performed as part of euthanizing an animal.