The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act expands on a 2010 law protecting animals subjected to “crush videos,” where small animals are seen crushed to death by faceless women in high heels. Animal rights activists criticized the 2010 law for failing to criminalize the acts of animal cruelty depicted in the videos, rather than just the videos themselves.
The PACT Act passed Congress unanimously and President Trump signed it into law on Monday. It goes further than the 2010 law by directly banning animal cruelty, including crushing, drowning, suffocating, sexually exploiting, stabbing, or burning animals. Violators can be punished with fines, felony charges, and up to seven years in prison.
Until now, the treatment of animals has largely been regulated at the state level. Previously, the Animal Welfare Act, passed in 1966, was the only federal law on the books regulating the treatment of animals and it only set a minimum standard.
The PACT Act doesn’t apply to industries long targeted by animal rights activists, including meat production and scientific research. Still, activists have said the act is a victory for animal rights because it increases the likelihood that abuse would be punished by allowing federal law enforcement to get involved.