Lawmakers have introduced a bill that makes animal cruelty a nationwide felony.
via Jimmywee / Flickr

Currently, there are animal cruelty laws in 50 states as well federal laws that prohibit animal fighting and creating videos that depict animal cruelty. But animals still aren't protected by any far-reaching blanket legislation on a federal level.

What if animals are being tortured across state lines? What if animals are being transported for bestiality? What if animal cruelty occurs on federal property?

That's why Democratic Representative Ted Deutch and Republican Representative Vern Buchanan, both from Florida, have come together to propose bipartisan legislation that broadens the scope of federal jurisdiction through the PACT Act — which stands for Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture.


"This is commonsense, bipartisan legislation to bring some compassion to our animal laws," Deutch told the Orlando Sentinel. "We've acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos; now it's time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well."

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Under the new law, wrongdoers can be punished for drowning, crushing, burning, impaling, sexually exploiting, or suffocating an animal. Federal authorities will also have more power to pursue animal abusers and can prosecute crimes committed on federal property.

Those who are convicted under the law would be subject to felony charges, fines, and up to seven years in prison.

According to the Humane Society, the most common forms of animal abuse happen on factory farms, but because of weak protections, these crimes are rarely reported. Animal abuse also closely tracks with domestic abuse. A survey revealed that 71% of domestic violence victims reported that their abusers also targeted their pets.


via Riik@mctr / Flickr

The bill was introduced to the House of Representatives in late January and has already earned 284 bipartisan cosponsors, far more than it needs to pass the House, as well as endorsements from the National Sheriffs Association and the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

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"Decades ago the Federal Bureau of Investigation recognized the seriousness of animal cruelty and its link to escalating violence toward humans," Humane Society Legislative Fund President Sara Amundson said in the statement. "Representatives Deutch and Buchanan are tremendous advocates for animal protection, and we are grateful to them for seeking to eradicate malicious cruelty."

Upworthy has reached out to Congressmen Deutch and Buchanan about the progress of the legislation and has yet to receive a response.

A young boy tried to grab the Pope's skull cap

A boy of about 10-years-old with a mental disability stole the show at Pope Francis' weekly general audience on Wednesday at the Vatican auditorium. In front of an audience of thousands the boy walked past security and onto the stage while priests delivered prayers and introductory speeches.

The boy, later identified as Paolo, Jr., greeted the pope by shaking his hand and when it was clear that he had no intention of leaving, the pontiff asked Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, the head of protocol, to let the boy borrow his chair.

The boy's activity on the stage was clearly a breach of Vatican protocol but Pope Francis didn't seem to be bothered one bit. He looked at the child with a sense of joy and wasn't even disturbed when he repeatedly motioned that he wanted to remove his skull cap.

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