President Donald Trump signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act into law on Monday. The law, which makes animal cruelty a federal crime, gives law enforcement the power to prosecute people carrying out acts of animal cruelty.
The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, passed in 2010, only allowed such officers to target people creating, selling and distributing footage of “crush videos,” which capture people stepping on and crushing animals, Newsweek reported.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund noted that before the passing of the PACT Act, federal animal protection laws were less broad, targeting specific situations and industries, such as zoos, puppy mills and slaughterhouses, according to NPR.
Trump’s signing of the act appears to be well-received. Dr. John Howe, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, believes that the new law is a “historic victory for animal welfare.”
“We are grateful for the bipartisan work of lawmakers and animal welfare advocates who helped this bill become law.”
“We cannot change the horrors of what animals have endured in the past, but we can crack down on these crimes moving forward. This is a day to celebrate,” Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said in a statement.
According to Trump, the reaction to the bill mirrors the response to his earlier signing of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act, CNN reports. In particular, Trump said people wondered why such a law wasn’t passed long ago.
Although all 50 states have laws against animal cruelty, the new law allows federal authorities to prosecute such crimes without being bound by state-level rules. In addition, the act opens a pathway for federal authorities to prosecute animal abusers who they believe may also harm people.
“Our research has shown if somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting or will hurt a human,” John Thompson, then-deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, said last year of his group’s designation of animal cruelty as a “gateway” crime.
According to Thompson, animal abuse patterns typically suggest “something else is going on,” which is supported by scientific research. As The Inquisitr previously reported, research suggests that animal cruelty is connected to later acts of violence against humans, with animal abusers five times more likely to harm humans. In a recent case, Texas mass shooter Seth Ator, who is accused of killing seven people and wounding 22 others, reportedly used to shoot at animals with his rifle.
Exceptions in the PACT Act include hunting, fishing, scientific research and the meat industry.