President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that makes animal cruelty, specifically intentionally seriously harming an animal in the production of so-called “crush videos,” a federal crime. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act makes so-called “crushing” or the creation of “crush videos” punishable by a fine, a prison term up to seven years, or both. The law does not apply to customary animal management practices, the slaughter of animals for food, hunting or other sport killings not prohibited by Federal law, the use of animals in research and testing, measures taken to protect life or property of a person, or euthanasia of an animal. This law is meant to cure the deficiencies in a prior federal ban on crush videos that was struck down by the Supreme Court in United States v. Stevens.
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Federal Law Outlaws Creation and Distribution of Animal Crush Videos
New Jersey Bill Establishes Mandatory Reporting for Animal Abuse
New Jersey Senate Bill 3168 proposes to require veterinarians, veterinary technicians, employees of the Department of Child and Families or Department of Human Services Division of Aging, management of residential care facilities, and law enforcement officers to make a report if they have reason to suspect animal cruelty or abuse. The bill would also establish immunity for anyone who makes a report of suspected animal abuse in good faith and amend the definition of domestic violence to include animal abuse.
New Jersey Considers Legislation Approving Court-Appointed Animal Advocates
New Jersey Assembly Bill 4533 would allow courts to appoint a separate advocate to represent the interests of the animal at issue in a criminal case involving a nonhuman animal.
Mississippi Considers Increasing Penalties for Aggravated Cruelty to Dogs and Cats
Mississippi House Bill 1565, if enacted, would make aggravated cruelty to a dog or a cat a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, and punishable by up to a $5000 fine, five years in prison, or both. The bill also includes bars to ownership of cats or dogs following an offense and clarifies that each act constitutes a separate offense.
New Hampshire Criminalizes Cruelty to Wild Animals
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has signed into law House Bill 529 which will make any person who “purposely beats, cruelly whips, tortures or mutilates . . . any wild animal, fish or wild bird,” or who causes such acts, guilty of a class B felony. Any person who “negligently” takes such action shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. The law includes an affirmative defense for “any manner of taking, open season time limits, permitted scientific investigations or wildlife management practices lawful under title XVIII or administrative rules.”
Florida Considers Revising Definition of Misdemeanor Animal Cruelty
Florida Senate Bill 256 would reorder the elements necessary for a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. This bill is being considered concurrently with House Bill 121, introduced last week, which elevates crimes against animals perpetrated in the home or in the course of another felony to the level of aggravated animal cruelty.
Cars, Dogs, and the Fourth Amendment
An article by Brian Gallini published in the Washington Law Review, “Suspects, Cars & Police Dogs: A Complicated Relationship,” examines the use of dogs in policing to justify automobile searches.
West Virginia Considers Establishing Anti-Bestiality Law
West Virginia House Bill 2827 would create the felony offense of “sexual crimes against an animal” with penalties of 1 to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. The bill would require that anyone convicted of the crime to relinquish custody of all animals under the person’s control, obtain psychiatric or psychological counseling, and be prohibited from harboring animals or being present where animals are present for at least ten years. The bill contains exemptions for accepted veterinary procedures; “artificial insemination of an animal for reproductive purposes; [a]ccepted animal husbandry practices, including grooming, raising, breeding, or assisting with the birthing process”; generally accepted “practices related to the judging of breed conformation”; and “affection towards a pet such as petting, hugging, or kissing in a non-sexual manner.”
New York Legislation Would Criminalize Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle Resulting in Death or Serious Injury of a Companion Animal
New York Senate Bill 5445 would expand the definition of aggravated animal cruelty to include reckless operation of a motor vehicle resulting in the death or serious injury of a companion animal.