The PACT Act: Criminalizing Animal Cruelty

What Is the PACT Act?

Prior to November 25, 2019, no federal law banned specific acts of animal cruelty. While the Animal Welfare Act and the 2010 Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act placed certain restrictions on the treatment of animals and depictions of animal cruelty, there was no legislation prohibiting general acts of cruelty. This made it challenging for the federal government to prosecute animal cruelty that was posted online or occurred on federal land and across state lines.

As such, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act was signed to protect living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians from animal crushing. The PACT Act defines “animal crushing” as conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is purposely:

  • Crushed
  • Burned
  • Drowned
  • Suffocated
  • Impaled
  • Otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury

The PACT Act criminalizes animal crushing and creating and distributing animal crush videos. Thus, animal crushing is a federal crime. The law also bans the knowing sale, marketing, advertising, exchange, distribution, or creation of an animal crush video outside of the US if:

  • a person engaging in the conduct intentionally or has reason to know that such video will be transported into the US, its territories or possessions; or
  • the animal crush video is transported into the US, its territories or possessions.

If convicted of animal crushing, you may be subject to steep fines and/or up to 7 years in federal prison. These penalties can better be avoided by understanding what animal cruelty is. Let’s examine how prominent animal organizations like the ASPCA identify signs of animal cruelty:

  • Tight collars that cause neck wounds or have become embedded in the pet's neck
  • Open wounds, signs of multiple healed wounds or an ongoing injury or illness that isn't being treated
  • Extreme thinness or emaciation—bones may be visible
  • Patches of bumpy, scaly skin rashes
  • Weakness, limping or the inability to stand or walk normally
  • Heavy discharge from eyes or nose
  • An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal
  • Visible signs of confusion or extreme drowsiness
  • Pets are tied up alone outside for long periods of time without adequate food or water, or with unsanitary food or water
  • Pets are kept in an area littered with feces, garbage, broken glass or other objects that could harm them

Defending Animal Crushing Charges in Santa Barbara

Our federal criminal defense lawyers at Appel & Morse are former prosecutors who understand how the State operates and builds its cases against defendants. As a result, we have the experience and competence needed to build a comprehensive plan of action to defend your animal crushing accusations.

We understand that your charges may have caught you off guard, as animal crushing allegations stem from mere speculation. Maybe a concerned neighbor, spiteful ex or avid animal rights activist noticed suspicious markings on your pet and called the police to report animal cruelty. That does not, however, indicate guilt and we are deeply aware of that.

Contact (805) 467-6060 to get started on your defense today!

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