Advocates say new federal animal cruelty act may not have a big local impact

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It may seem like there’s a stalemate in Washington these days, but both sides of the aisle came together to pass an animal cruelty bill that President Trump signed into law on Monday.

Animal protection advocates say the law may not do much to protect animals on the local level.

They say making animal cruelty a federal felony is a good first start, but local laws still need to be fortified to properly punish people who abuse animals.

The KC Pet Project took in five abused animals this week. Of three dogs that were stabbed, one did not make it. Another dog who was beaten with a baseball bat and a fifth dog was found in a duffel bag in a park, dead.

All of that happened the same week the president signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, better known as the “PACT Act,” into law.

“To my knowledge the law that was signed into effect yesterday really won’t have a lot of say on what happens here in Kansas City, Missouri in terms of animal cruelty,” said Tori Fugate, Chief Communications Officer at KC Pet Project.

A 2010 federal law made it illegal to make or distribute video of animal abuse. The PACT Act takes it one step further making the abuse act itself a felony. Enforcement will be limited to interstate commerce and federal property.

All 50 states have animal abuse laws on the books, but some cases are difficult to prosecute because of jurisdictional issues. The PACT Act allows the feds to go after those cases.

“It really will focus on torture against animals, large-scale cases that you see on a national level,” Fugate said. “Municipalities will still be in charge of filing charges for local animal cruelty cases.”

KC Pet Project is currently in negotiations to take over animal control services in Kansas City, including investigating and presenting animal cruelty cases to prosecutors.

“Once that contract is done and we are able to start that work, we do hope that this will be an initiative that we really focus on so that animal cruelty is viewed differently in Kansas City, and there is punishment for those who inflict harm on these animals,” Fugate said.

Click on this link to read details of the PACT Act.

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