By Meg Dickens
Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act passed unanimously through the Senate earlier this November making its way to be signed by President Donald Trump into law as Public Law No. 116-72 on Monday, November 25.
This new bill is a step in the right direction for animal protection, but widespread misconceptions make staying informed difficult. Local animal activists Rescue DOG and End of Life Sanctuary Owner Melissa Gentry and Mountain City Animal Control Officer Mandy Neylon took a moment to set the record straight.
PACT builds on the 2010 Animal Crush Prohibition Act (Public Law No. 111-294), which tightens regulations on “Animal Crush” videos. Congress defines Animal Crush as any type of obscene video or image that depicts living, non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians intentionally being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or put through serious bodily harm.
Despite some reports, PACT only applies to specific acts of cruelty mentioned in the Animal Crush Prohibition Act and sexual abuse. Punishment could result in a fine and up to seven years in prison. This bill does not cover neglect, abandonment, extreme weather issues, filthy conditions, tethering issues, or puppy mills.
“In the past 20 years of rescue, I have seen many horrific scenes that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. These are the cases that give me nightmares and keep me up at night. Stricter laws making abusers accountable are the key to change,” said Gentry. “The PACT Bill is a small step, and we can only go forward. I am hopeful we can build on this small step and work together to make a difference in our community.”
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department has been a big help, according to local advocates. Sheriff Eddie Tester partnered with Rescue DOG to help with an animal transport back in June and continues to help animals in the course of duty.
“I am so thankful we have a sheriff’s department that is ready to step in and does not hesitate to charge an individual for cruelty and neglect,” said Gentry. “With the assistance of Sheriff Tester and his deputies, justice has been served to many in Johnson County, and the animals are forever indebted.”
To learn more about the PACT act, visit congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/724/all-info.