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While A 2010 Law Criminalized The Creation And Distribution Of Videos Depicting Animals Being Harmed, It Contained A Loophole Allowing Abusers To Escape Without Punishment

Schumer Today Announces His Legislation To Allow The Prosecution Of Animal Abusers—The PACT Act—Has Unanimously Passed Both House And Senate And Will Now Head To The President’s Desk 

Schumer: Long-Overdue Legislation Will Keep Abusers’ Paws Off Our Animals

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his years-long support and advocacy, his legislation, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, has unanimously passed the Senate and will now head to the president’s desk for signature. The bipartisan PACT Act, introduced in the Senate by Senators Pat Toomey [R-PA], Richard Blumenthal [D-CT], Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] and Dick Durbin [D-IL], and cosponsored by Schumer, closes a loophole created by the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which criminalized the creation and distribution of videos depicting the torture of animals but prevented federal law enforcement from prosecuting abusers. Once the bill is signed into law, Schumer explained, criminals that are caught torturing or otherwise harming animals can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and even sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

“For far too long, animal abusers have used a loophole to avoid penalties or repercussions for their heinous acts. The maiming and torturing of innocent animals is abhorrent and will now finally be a federal felony, punishable to the fullest extent of the law. After years of supporting the PACT Act, I’m delighted that it’s finally headed to the president to be signed and become law,” said Senator Schumer. 

“Time and again, we’ve seen the linkage between animal cruelty and cruelty and crimes against people. It is essential to take pro-active steps to curtail animal crimes and give law enforcement the tools they need to stop these crimes. Shelters across NY are partners with law enforcement and district attorneys that tackle animal cruelty. Many shelters across the state give safe harbor to the animals who survive this abuse. The New York State Animal Protection Federation stands with Senator Schumer in fighting animal crimes and thanks him for standing up for animals. The PACT Act is a crucial step forward and we have Senator Schumer to thank for it,” said Libby Post, Executive Director, New York State Animal Protection Federation.

“As one of the oldest animal welfare agencies in the United States, The Dutchess County SPCA is overjoyed that the PACT Act has passed the Senate and is finally on its way to becoming law. Since 1871, Dutchess County SPCA has enforced animal cruelty laws in the county and provided around the clock Humane Law Enforcement services. In the past, federal law banned the sale or distribution of videos showing animals being crushed, burned or tortured, but it did not prohibit the underlying conduct without a video, which is why we brought our concern directly to Senator Schumer. We are grateful that the senator has routinely been a leader in the fight against animal abuse and fought to pass this imperative legislation that will assist our Humane Law Enforcement Department Officers right here in Dutchess County and be an inestimable help in our fight to put an end to animal abuse,” said Lynne Meloccaro, Executive Director, Dutchess County SPCA. 

“I’ve heard about or seen firsthand nearly 30 years’ worth of animal cruelty incidents,” said Gina Lattuca, Chief Communications Officer, SPCA Serving Erie County.  “Fortunately, our community is one in which compassion and kindness for animals far outweigh cruelty episodes, but those moments….the level of violence often exhibited is something to which one never really becomes accustomed. Violence is violence is violence, no matter the victim, and it’s no secret that violence towards people is often prefaced by violence towards animals. Thankfully, Senator Schumer and our government are taking note of that now more than ever before, and it’s thrilling for those of us who have dedicated our lives to preventing animal cruelty to see this bill so close to becoming a law.” 

"Central NY dog advocacy group, Cuse Pit Crew, applauds the Senate for the passage of the PACT Act. Like other communities across the country, Central NY is plagued with animal abuse. This law sends a clear message that animal abuse will not be tolerated. Most importantly, law enforcement and prosecutors will now have the tools they need to follow through on animal abuse cases. We thank Senator Schumer for his continued compassion toward the welfare of animals," said Stefanie Heath, Cuse Pit Crew Board President. 

“Lollypop Farm supports laws like the PACT Act that hold perpetrators of animal crimes accountable for their actions. Our Humane Law Enforcement Officers respond to thousands of reports of animal cruelty and neglect every year, and legislation like this sheds light on the gravity of animal abuse in our country. We hope this inspires local legislation that fights violence against animals,” said Alice Calabrese, CAWA, President and CEO, Lollypop Farm, Humane Society of Greater Rochester. 

Though Schumer supported the PACT Act during the last two Congresses as well, it ultimately failed to pass in the House of Representatives. The PACT Act was reintroduced this year by Senators Blumenthal, Toomey, Feinstein and Durbin, and garnered a bipartisan group of 41 cosponsors, including Schumer.

Despite the federal animal crush video law enacted in 2010, banning the creation, sale, and distribution of videos that show live animals being intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or subjected to other heinous abuse, Congress failed to make the act of crushing a federal crime. Therefore, even when there was overwhelming and substantiated evidence that torture is taking place, current federal law only prohibits and criminalizes animal cruelty if the offenders create and sell videos depicting the abuse, leaving federal law enforcement unable to arrest known abusers or protect the animals. The PACT Act ensures that those found guilty of torturing animals face fines, felony charges, and up to seven years in prison.

The PACT Act is supported by the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Wellness Action, National Sheriffs' Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and over 200 law enforcement agencies across the country.

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the companion bill on October 23, 2019 with 301 cosponsors.