Important animal welfare bill approved by Congress

U.S. Capitol Building


Following years of advocacy by the AVMA, lawmakers and animal welfare advocates, the U.S. House and Senate have unanimously approved landmark animal welfare legislation to outlaw the cruel and inhumane act of animal crushing.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, which now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature, also would make extreme acts of animal cruelty a federal felony. The legislation was passed by the House of Representatives on Oct. 22 and the Senate on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

What would this bill change?

Currently, it is illegal to sell videos of “animal crushing,” which is defined as intentionally crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling, or otherwise causing serious bodily injury to an animal. The PACT Act would go further, outlawing the actual act of animal crushing.

The bill also provides important safeguards to ensure it appropriately targets bad actors without incidentally ensnaring other groups. It specifically excludes any customary and normal veterinary or agricultural husbandry practice; the slaughter of animals for food; hunting, trapping, fishing, predator control, and pest control; medical and scientific research; and actions necessary to protect the life of people or property from a serious threat caused by an animal.

Passage represents a “historic victory”

Tuesday’s Senate vote marked “a historic victory for animal welfare,” according to AVMA President Dr. John Howe. “Thanks to the bipartisan work of lawmakers and animal welfare advocates, we’re one step closer to finally criminalizing the cruel and inhumane act of animal crushing. We’re looking forward to seeing President Trump sign this bill into law.”

Animal welfare is an important pillar of AVMA’s ongoing advocacy work in Congress. The AVMA’s congressional agenda outlines all of the legislation on which the Association has currently taken positions.