North Texas Daily

The PACT to end animal cruelty is necessary but unfortunately lacking

The PACT to end animal cruelty is necessary but unfortunately lacking

The PACT to end animal cruelty is necessary but unfortunately lacking
November 15
12:13 2019

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) unanimously passed by the House of Representatives will make certain acts of animal cruelty a federal crime.

The Senate passed the bill Nov. 5, and it now heads to President Trump for approval. The PACT Act expands on a law signed by Obama in 2010 that banned “animal crushing” videos which are videos of animals being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled and other serious forms of harm. The law prohibits the making and sharing of these crush videos but fails to address the actual acts of abuse. The only other federal law for animal cruelty is the banning of animal fighting.

The PACT Act would criminalize these acts on a federal level that includes fines and up to seven years in prison. This is a great step toward stopping animal cruelty by creating actual punishment for the harming of animals.

This new bill has also been praised by law enforcement for its potential to stop human crimes because animal cruelty is often a gateway to harming people. 

“We know by now that animal cruelty is an indicator of social pathology and those who commit crimes against humans often start out by hurting animals,” Kitty Block, CEO of the Humane Society, and Sara Amundson, president of the organization’s legislative fund said in a blog post.

But we still have a long way to go. If this gets passed into law, which hopefully it does, there are some exceptions. The slaughter of animals for food, hunting, fishing, medical or scientific research, the necessity to protect the life or property of a person, normal veterinary/other animal management practices and humane euthanization of animals, are all exceptions to the bill that are not punishable.

Most of these exceptions make sense, but I won’t get into the unethical practice of hunting and fishing for fun. Besides that, there is still some improvement that is needed. For example, the practice of animal testing needs to stop.

“Over 115 million animals — mice, rats, dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, birds, among others — are killed in laboratory experiments for chemical, drug, food, and cosmetic testing every year,” according to dosomething.org

There are so many other forms of animal cruelty that aren’t listed in the bill that I feel are being neglected. The bill lists a number of different types of harm that include crushing, burning, drowning and causing serious bodily injury, but fails to mention some other significant forms like animal testing.

 I feel like this is a gray area that needs to be expanded on, namely the causing of serious bodily injury to an animal. Are forms of neglect, like starving your animal, part of that “serious bodily injury” section?

Or what about horse racing, which has resulted in 493 race-related deaths in 2018 according to the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database. Not to mention that any injury or sign of retirement results in these horses being sent to slaughterhouses.

A study by the Wild for Life Foundation found that more than 160,000 thoroughbreds were slaughtered between 2004 and 2010. That number has increased 10% between 2011-2017, according to Equine Welfare Alliance.

There are so many other forms of abuse that are similar to this, too. Dogfighting is still prevalent today even though there are laws already prohibiting it. Greyhound racing results in thousands of deaths each year, according to dosomething.org. These operations are harming animals every day, but would they stand in court with this bill’s vague phrasing of “serious bodily injury?”

Puppy mills are large-scale commercial operations that breed dogs rapidly without any concern for their health. More emphasis is placed on profit rather than the well-being of the animal and often results in illnesses and diseases. These animals are less likely to be sold so they are either abandoned or have to be euthanized to put them out of their misery. 

According to the PACT Act, this would be considered humane euthanasia considering the plague of illnesses that these puppies may have contracted, but it fails to recognize the operation that carelessly breeds and neglects these animals in the first place. Many operations are even doing this illegally without a license from the USDA.

It’s great that animal cruelty is one step closer to becoming a felony, but there’s a lot more to be done.

There are countless forms of animal cruelty that is being used for profit every day. 

I’m hopeful that the PACT Act can lead to another bill expansion in the near future that will end these operations that place money and entertainment over the well-being of animals.

Featured Illustration: Miranda Thomas

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Vivian Berreondo

Vivian Berreondo

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