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Law to criminalize cruelty to animals

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Liliana Castañeda
Staff Writer

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT Act, which would ban extreme acts of cruelty against animals, was approved by both houses of Congress and is expected to be signed into law by President Donald Trump. 

The PACT Act expands a 2010 law that criminalized the creation and distribution of “obscene” videos of animal abuse. The previous law did not prohibit the specific acts.

Lizeth Zamora, a resource worker at the Baldwin Park animal shelter, said the law would stop people from abusing dogs and purposely putting them in dog fights.

“We’ve had a few cases where a dog came in super bloody, but that was usually from another dog,” Zamora said.

The PACT Act was proposed in the House on Jan. 23, by Rep. Ted Deutch, D–Florida, and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R–Florida.

Dog fights, according to the ASPCA, are usually linked to other illegal activities such as gambling, drugs and firearms.  

The ASPCA estimates there are tens of thousands of dog fights in the U.S., with many fighting in a space of about 14 to 20 square-foot pits, designed to keep the animals contained. 

Both animals may suffer injuries including puncture wounds, lacerations, blood loss, crushing injuries and broken bones.

There are exemptions in the bill for cases where animals are slaughtered for food, customary veterinary animal management, hunting, research, self defense or its humane animal euthanization. 

Under the PACT Act, someone caught breaking the law would be fined, imprisoned for up to seven years, or both.

“When animals have been neglected or injured, they respond to that fear of abuse by cowering in fear or becoming more aggressive,” said Tanya Kaveh, behavior specialist at the Pasadena Humane Society. 

If the PACT becomes a law, “I believe people will be less likely to do it because of the severe consequences it will impose,” she said. 

Liliana Castañeda can be reached at

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