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Cruelty to animals is a federal crime

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2024 | Firm News

In the United States, mistreatment of animals is no small matter. In 2019, the country enacted the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, showing its firm stance against such behavior. Understanding the basic tenets of this act is crucial, particularly for individuals who are unsure whether their actions have crossed a legal line.

What is the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act about?

For most Americans, pets hold a special place in the family. However, others see animals as subjects for abuse. A troubling trend of extreme cruelty, namely animal crushing videos, has become rampant in recent years. These distressing visual depictions show people inflicting pain on small animals, such as kittens and birds, by stepping on, crushing, or impaling them.

The passage of the PACT Act makes it clear that acts of animal cruelty, such as crushing, along with the creation and distribution of animal crushing videos are serious crimes. This act also criminalizes the intentional act of burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or inflicting serious harm to animals. Those who breach the law may face severe penalties, including fines, up to seven years in prison, or both.

Activities that do not constitute animal cruelty

The PACT Act focuses on the intentional and malicious harm of animals. It does not criminalize accidental harm unless it results in serious injury to or the death of an animal. Additionally, the PACT Act does not consider the following actions as cruelty:

  • Engaging in practices normal in agriculture and veterinary care
  • Performing euthanasia
  • Conducting medical or scientific research
  • Distributing animal crush videos in good faith (such as to submit to law enforcement)
  • Participating in legally allowed recreational activities such as hunting, trapping and fishing
  • Executing pest or predator control measures
  • Slaughtering animals for food consumption

Mistakes that cause unintended harm are not necessarily abuse. Nevertheless, learning about and adhering to proper animal care practices may help ensure that all interactions are responsible and legal.

The federal law against animal cruelty reflects the nation’s compassion and values. The law and society may be unforgiving toward individuals accused of mistreating animals. If you face such serious charges, consider speaking to an attorney for guidance.