This week, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the bipartisan Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, which bans the practice of animal “crushing”—a sexual fetish that involves crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling live animals such as dogs, cats, and mice. Led by representatives Ted Deutch (D-Fla) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla), PACT builds upon the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 which outlawed the distribution of crush videos but did not make the underlying content illegal. Several animal-rights groups have lobbied for the passing of PACT, including Animal Wellness Action (AWA), Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF), and the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF). “Most people are shocked to know that the US does not have a federal animal cruelty law,” Holly Gann, Director of Federal Affairs at AWA and AWF, said. “Enacting this bill sends a signal that our nation has no tolerance for intentional cruelty toward animals.”

HSLF President Sara Amundson explained that PACT closes a gap in the laws that protect animals who are subjected to crushing. “Over the course of 30 years in animal protection, I have encountered terrible animal cruelties, but acts of intentional torture are the most disturbing because they demonstrate how some people treat the most vulnerable in our society” said Amundson. “These malicious acts deserve federal scrutiny and action. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials will finally have the tools they need to bring those responsible for cruelty to animals to justice.” 

While PACT is an important step for some animals, others will continue to be cruelly tortured and killed as PACT contains clauses that exclude animals who are exploited for food, fashion, and scientific research. PACT now heads to the Senate for voting and, if passed, will move on to the president’s desk for signature into law.