U.S. President Donald J. Trump has enacted legislation that makes animal cruelty a federal felony.
Trump signed U.S. Rep. Theodore Deutch’s (D-FL) H.R. 724 last Nov. 25, 2019. The new law makes acts of intentionally crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling, or otherwise subjecting an animal to serious bodily harm a federal offense, with a possible penalty of seven years imprisonment.
The legislation is also known as the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or the PACT Act and is now recognized as Public Law 116-72.
The bipartisan legislation previously passed the U.S. Senate unanimously on Nov. 5, 2019. The legislation was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives floor on Jan. 23, 2019, and was passed on Oct. 22, 2019.
The legislation improved on Public Law 111-294, or the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act. The author of the bill previously stated that P.L. 111-294 merely prohibited videos of animal cruelty and not the act of animal abuse itself. Former U.S. president Barack Obama enacted that law in 2010.
In the CNMI, the Legislature is currently still reviewing its third iteration of an animal protection bill. Author Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan) introduced House Bill 21-59, or the Animal Protection Act, on June 11, 2019.
The bill protects animals from cruelty and theft and provides penalties for such acts, including imposing a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500 and 250 hours of community service at an animal shelter or care organization.
The legislation also imposes heavier consequences if the animal dies or suffers from bodily injury as a result of the violation; if the violation involves extreme malice; if the person has a prior conviction for a previous similar violation; or if the person engages or promotes dogfighting with a misdemeanor and fine of at least $500 but not more than $1,000 and 500 hours of community service at an animal shelter or care organization.
The legislation is still currently under review at the Senate committee level.