WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Furry friends all across the country could soon have new protections from the federal government, and lawmakers say it’s about time.
The effort to make animal abuse a federal crime is getting a lot of support on both sides of the aisle. Congressional lawmakers say with all the division in government, there’s nothing that unites people like protecting animals. They’re hoping that’s enough to get a new bill passed into law.
The Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture Act – or PACT Act – would turn trafficking animals across state lines into a federal crime. It would also be a federal crime to create online animal torture videos.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) worked together to author the bill. It now has more than 270 co-sponsors from both parties.
“The bill isn’t just one of the most widely-supported pieces of legislation on the hill, it is also one of the most bipartisan,” Rep. Deutch said.
The bill also has massive support from citizens. High school student Sydney Helfan was able to collect 600,000 signatures online in support of the act.
“It’s really amazing to see everyone come together,” she said.
Rep. Buchanan says he’s doing this not just for animals, but for the people who love them too.
“A lot of them are very passionate about their animals,” he said.
Animal abuse laws currently vary by state with no good way for federal officials to get involved. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who used to be an FBI agent, says animal abuse often goes hand-in-hand with other federal crimes.
“One of the things that I saw every single day was the nexus between animal cruelty and a lot of other federal violations,” he said.
Lawmakers hope this bill will help federal authorities bring an end to those violations.
The bill needs 290 co-sponsors to be assured it gets taken up for a vote. Its authors are confident that will happen.