Friends of Animals is calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a federal animal cruelty statute aimed at ending crushing, a heinous act in which animals are tortured and maimed. Often the cruelty is recorded and distributed.

Joining with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and other animal rights groups, FoA is urging lawmakers to pass the Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, which if signed into law would be the first ever federal anti-animal cruelty statute. Under the act, co-introduced by Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, individuals who torture animals would face federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison. The measure would also make bestiality a federal criminal enterprise. The PACT act unanimously passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

At a press conference Tuesday in Connecticut, Blumenthal noted that the man arrested in the Parkland Florida shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School bragged about shooting animals and that there is a clear link between cruelty of animals and future violence against people.  

“We know sadly and tragically that abuse of animals is a precursor and predictor of cruelty and abuse to humans,” Blumenthal said. “Whether it is domestic violence or mass shootings, it is an indicator of bad things to come.”

A 2013 study published in Sage Journals that reviewed 23 perpetrators of school massacres from 1988 to 2012 found that 43% of the perpetrators commit animal cruelty before the schoolyard massacres. A 2014 report published by the National District Attorneys Association also noted the link between animal cruelty and human abuse.

Media reports noted that the Texas shooter who killed 26 people in a church in November had previously been charged with and pled guilty of cruelty to animals.

Making animal cruelty a federal offense, Blumenthal said, will send a message on the importance of taking action and will also more actively enlist the help of law enforcement who investigate felony offenses.

Friends of Animals commended Blumenthal for protecting animals against bestiality and cruelty.

“While it is disturbing that there is even a need for this law, we are bolstered that we have legislators from across both sides of the aisle who won’t tolerate animal cruelty and exploitation,’’ said FoA’s Action Line Editor Nicole Rivard during the press conference.

The legislation comes at a time when animals are under constant assault by the current administration, FoA noted.
“Animals are threatened by a plethora of legislation and policy changes that would weaken the Endangered Species Act, drill in all our waterways … open our public lands to more industry interests, kill America’s wild horses and allow threatened African species to be sport-hunted into extinction,’’ Rivard said, noting the link between hunting and animal abuse.

Jody Macrina, president of Protectors of Animals which hosted the press conference at its East Hartford shelter said the PACT act is a light amid darkness.

“There is so much strife and stridency now,’’ said Macrina “it is truly refreshing and uplifting to see our legislators speaking up for those in need of protection.’’

Read more about the PACT act here and to contact your U.S. Representatives to urge them to support H.R. 1494 click here.