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PACT Act, If Enacted, Would Close Loophole In Videoed Animal Torture Cases

Nicolas Suzor
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
Torturing a companion animal is currently a state-level felony. The PACT Act, if passed, would make the obscene videorecorded torture of mammals, birds, and herpetofauna a federal-level felony.

Animal crush videos are obscene videos depicting the torture of living animals. Although it’s a federal criminal offense to create or distribute animal crush videos, the act of torturing the animals on video is not considered criminal. 

The PACT Act, which passed the US House of Representatives last month, seeks to close that loophole.

“Crush videos are horrendous. They are egregious acts of violence that reflect poorly on our society,” said Deann Shepherd, the director of marketing and communication at the Humane Society of Utah. “Utah has Henry’s Law, and that makes the torture of a companion animal such as a dog or cat a felony offense. In Utah, that crime can be punishable up to five years in prison. Now the PACT Act is taking this to the federal level.”

Henry’s Law was passed by Utah lawmakers to penalize those who abuse or torture cats and dogs, even if the abuse is not videotaped. Shepherd says the law doesn’t go far enough in protecting all of Utah’s living animals.

“The animal welfare in Utah is poor-rated on a national level," he said. "We don’t have a lot of laws that protect animals the way that some other states do. When the state sees that the federal government is taking animal abuse seriously by passing the PACT act, then they may pay attention to the fact that these forms of animal abuse are related to other crimes that need to be prevented.”

The PACT Act differs from Henry’s Law. It would apply to mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians being tortured in animal crush videos filmed in Utah or anywhere else in the United States.

As of 11/6/19, the PACT Act was passed by the US Senate and is awaiting the president's signature.