Animal cruelty now punishable by up to seven years in prison in US

In a rare display of political unity, Donald Trump on Monday signed a bipartisan bill that, for the first time, makes acts of animal cruelty a federal crime punishable with fines and up to seven years in prison.

The bill, called the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, was introduced in the house this year by two Florida lawmakers — representative Vern Buchanan, a Republican, and representative Ted Deutch, a Democrat. It expands a 2010 law signed by Barack Obama that banned videos that show animals being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or subjected to other forms of torture.

Now, intentional acts of cruelty shown in the videos are also felony offences.

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“This is a very important bill and it’s an honour to be involved with it,” Mr Trump said at a signing ceremony Monday. “I’m glad we got it done.”

The bill was passed unanimously by a voice vote in the house in October. It was passed unanimously by the senate in November.

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World’s most endangered animals

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World’s most endangered animals

1/17 Sumatran Elephant

The Sumatran elephant population now stands at only 2400-2800
Endemic to the far east of Russia, the Amur Leopard has a population of around 84 and is critically endangered. Here follows every species that the WWF lists as critically endangered.

3/17 Yangtze Finless Porpoise

Endemic to China’s Yangtze River, the Yangtze finless porpoise has an estimated population of 1000-1800

4/17 South China Tiger

When discovered in the 1950s, the South China tiger population was estimated to be 4000, by 1996 it was estimated to be only 30-80. Scientists consider the tiger to be “functionally extinct” as one has not been sighted for over 25 years

5/17 Sumatran Orangutan

The Sumatran orangutan was once found across the island of Sumatra and even further south on Java. Today it is found only in the island’s north and its population stands at 14,613

6/17 Western Lowland Gorilla

Though it is the most populous of all gorilla subspecies, the western lowland gorilla is still critically endangered and its population has declined by 60% in the last quarter century
The Sumatran rhinoceros is the smallest of the surviving rhinoceros species. Only 80 are known to be living today. The last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia died on 28 May 2019

8/17 Sumatran Tiger

There are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left today. They are severely threatened by deforestation and poaching

9/17 Eastern Lowland Gorilla

Half of the rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo in which these gorillas live has been destroyed the past 50 years. There were 17,000 Eastern Lowland gorillas in the 1990s but scientists estimate their population has declined by over 50% since then
The world’s rarest marine animal has a population of only 30. They were discovered in 1958 and are endemic to Mexico’s Gulf of California

11/17 Javan Rhino

The most threatened of all rhino species, there are only an estimated 58-68 Javan rhinos left
The saola was first sighted in 1992, being the first large mammal to be discovered in over 50 years. Scientists have only sighted saola in the wild four times and it is considered critically endangered

13/17 Malayan Tiger

The Malayan Tiger population now stands at only 250-300
The population of the Hawksbill Turtle has declined by more than 80% in the last century. They are threatened by black market poachers who kill them for their shell
The population of the black rhino dropped by 98% in the years 1960-1995 due to poaching, it stands today at around 5000

16/17 Cross River Gorilla

The population of the Cross River gorilla has been damaged by deforestation and poaching, it now stands at 200-300

17/17 Bornean Orangutan

The population of the Bornean orangutan has been reduced by over 50% in the past 60 years, now standing at around 104,700. Their habitat has been reduced by at least 50% in the 21st century
The Sumatran elephant population now stands at only 2400-2800
Endemic to the far east of Russia, the Amur Leopard has a population of around 84 and is critically endangered. Here follows every species that the WWF lists as critically endangered.

3/17 Yangtze Finless Porpoise

Endemic to China’s Yangtze River, the Yangtze finless porpoise has an estimated population of 1000-1800

4/17 South China Tiger

When discovered in the 1950s, the South China tiger population was estimated to be 4000, by 1996 it was estimated to be only 30-80. Scientists consider the tiger to be “functionally extinct” as one has not been sighted for over 25 years

5/17 Sumatran Orangutan

The Sumatran orangutan was once found across the island of Sumatra and even further south on Java. Today it is found only in the island’s north and its population stands at 14,613

6/17 Western Lowland Gorilla

Though it is the most populous of all gorilla subspecies, the western lowland gorilla is still critically endangered and its population has declined by 60% in the last quarter century
The Sumatran rhinoceros is the smallest of the surviving rhinoceros species. Only 80 are known to be living today. The last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia died on 28 May 2019

8/17 Sumatran Tiger

There are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left today. They are severely threatened by deforestation and poaching

9/17 Eastern Lowland Gorilla

Half of the rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo in which these gorillas live has been destroyed the past 50 years. There were 17,000 Eastern Lowland gorillas in the 1990s but scientists estimate their population has declined by over 50% since then
The world’s rarest marine animal has a population of only 30. They were discovered in 1958 and are endemic to Mexico’s Gulf of California

11/17 Javan Rhino

The most threatened of all rhino species, there are only an estimated 58-68 Javan rhinos left
The saola was first sighted in 1992, being the first large mammal to be discovered in over 50 years. Scientists have only sighted saola in the wild four times and it is considered critically endangered

13/17 Malayan Tiger

The Malayan Tiger population now stands at only 250-300
The population of the Hawksbill Turtle has declined by more than 80% in the last century. They are threatened by black market poachers who kill them for their shell
The population of the black rhino dropped by 98% in the years 1960-1995 due to poaching, it stands today at around 5000

16/17 Cross River Gorilla

The population of the Cross River gorilla has been damaged by deforestation and poaching, it now stands at 200-300

17/17 Bornean Orangutan

The population of the Bornean orangutan has been reduced by over 50% in the past 60 years, now standing at around 104,700. Their habitat has been reduced by at least 50% in the 21st century

Mr Buchanan said that signing the bill “into law is a significant milestone for pet owners and animal lovers across the country.”

Federal law already bans sponsoring animal fights.

Laws in all 50 states already include felony provisions for animal cruelty. But the federal bill would help prosecutors address cases of abused animals that cross state lines, animal rights groups have said. It could also funnel more resources towards investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty cases.

The additional step of making acts of cruelty a crime “makes a statement about American values,” said Kitty Block, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. 

“The approval of this measure by the congress and the president marks a new era in the codification of kindness to animals within federal law,” she said.

“For decades, a national anti-cruelty law was a dream for animal protectionists. Today, it is a reality.”

Chris Schindler, vice president of field services at the Humane Rescue Alliance, said in a statement Monday that the law would be particularly important in the District of Columbia, where cruelty cases often involve multiple jurisdictions and, on occasion, federal property.

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“Our officers investigate thousands of animal cruelty cases each year, but have been unable to truly bring justice for the animals in instances when the cruelty occurs across multiple jurisdictions,” he said. “The PACT Act is a necessary tool for us to provide further protections for animals and our community, and will ensure some of the most horrific acts of animal cruelty are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The bill would not apply to people who slaughter animals for food or to those who hunt, trap and fish.

Federal action addressing animal cruelty stretches back to the late 1990s, after the Humane Society of the United States began investigating “crush videos,” in which animals are tortured or killed, often under a woman’s foot, in the service of a sexual fetish.

The federal government enacted a law in 1999 that made the production and sale of such videos a federal crime. But in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that law unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds after some argued it was overly broad.

A replacement bill was passed and signed by Mr Obama in 2010.

The New York Times