Local animal advocates praise the president’s signing of a bill making animal cruelty a federal felony

Animal Cruelty Law

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - On Monday, with bipartisan support, President Donald Trump signed a bill making animal cruelty a federal felony.

"This should be an excellent deterrent for other people who have ever even given thought to abusing animals in this way,” said Alexis Pugh with Memphis Animal Services.

Local animal advocates say the PACT Act, or Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, is exciting news.

The bill bans intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating or impalement of animals -- and videos of such acts called “crush videos.”

"If you commit an act like this no longer will you be able to get away with it,” said Pugh.

Currently, Memphis Animal Services is only allowed to issue ordinance violations. If MAS officers believe state animal cruelty charges need to be filed, they contact Memphis Police.

This new law takes enforcement a step further.

"They should definitely let their local FBI office know and the those cases will be represented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in that area,” said Tracie Letterman, vice president of federal affairs for the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

According to Letterman, this law could also help with cases that cross state lines or ones that happen on federal property.

"People advertise for bestiality parties online and then people travel from all around the country to attend,” said Letterman.

U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant sent WMC Action News 5 this statement about the new law:

“As United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, I took an oath to faithfully execute and enforce the laws of Congress. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is a full-service federal prosecution office, and we have the ability and intention to charge any violations of federal law, including the PACT Act, no matter where they occur in West Tennessee. Our office has a commitment to upholding the rule of law, and to pursuing any cases against offenders who promote violence and cruelty, or harm vulnerable victims. Evidence shows that deranged individuals who harm animals often move on to committing acts of violence against people, and it is therefore appropriate that the federal government have strong animal cruelty laws and penalties in place to protect public safety. As a former District Attorney, I am proud of the work we did to prosecute animal cruelty under state law, and I look forward to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to combat these heinous and sadistic acts of animal cruelty using this new federal statute.”

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