Proposed Bill Would Make Animal Abuse a Federal Felony

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A new bill proposes to make animal abuse a federal felony.

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture, or PACT Act, would widen the scope of prosecutable crimes and give authorities the ability to cross state lines to track down the person responsible.

Justine Lentz with the Fayetteville Animal Shelter said she is the voice for her animals.

She said, “They depend on us, you know, for everything, and we’re their voice so it’s our responsibility to take care of them and also provide protection for them.”

She says her team sees abuse cases often.

“At least once a month we’re seeing something that crosses the line of you know, just inadequate care into what we would consider cruelty,” Lentz said.

Lentz said abuse can range from small things like overgrown nails and matted fur to severe emaciation.
 
In Arkansas, certain forms of animal cruelty are already considered a felony, but the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act would cover even more offenses.
 
This includes drowning, suffocating, impaling and sexually exploiting animals.
 

Sgt. Tony Murphy of the Fayetteville Police Department said, “The law now, it’s kind of hard to prosecute people at times.” He adds, “Anytime that we can take such a hot issue like this and give law enforcement more avenues to approach it, it’s good.”

Lentz said, “It happens, you know, just how people are cruel to each other, and to children. I don’t know where it starts but it’s definitely a problem.”

Sgt. Murphy said there’s not always a connection between a person who hurts animals and a person who hurts other people, but his team is trained to keep an eye on individuals who turn to threatening the life of a pet.

“You’ve got to treat everything with respect, whether it be people or animals,” he said.

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