Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The House unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that makes animal cruelty a federal felony, closing loopholes in a 2010 law that cracked down on the interstate sale of videos of the crime.
The updated Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act would explicitly make it a federal crime for "any person to intentionally engage in animal crushing if the animals or animal crushing is in, substantially affects, or uses a means of facility of, interstate or foreign commerce," a fact sheet accompanying the bill said.
Under the 2010 version of the law, it is only a federal crime to create or distribute video of violence against animals. The update now makes the underlying violence a crime.
The federal law would be limited to cruelty which takes place on federal land or involves interstate commerce. It would not interfere with state-level animal cruelty laws.
Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., introduced the legislation.
"The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," Buchanan said. "Passing the PACT Act sends a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated. Protecting animals from cruelty is a top priority for me and I will continue to work with Congressman Deutch to get this important bill signed into law."
Human Society Legislative Fund President Sara Amundsen welcomed the House's unanimous approval of the PACT Act.
"These malicious acts deserve federal scrutiny and action. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials will finally have the tools they need to bring those responsible for cruelty to animals to justice," she said.
The Senate has not scheduled a vote on the act.