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Proposed Bill Could Make Animal Cruelty A Felony

It wasn't so long ago that we lived in a sort of "wild west" when it came to animal ownership.

My mom would often tell me stories of the streets she avoided because residents would let their dogs roam the neighborhood unattended. And what those residents did to those dogs behind closed doors simply wasn't considered anyone else's businesses.

But as the frankly chilling tales of animal cruelty we've heard about in the decades since have taught us, reality isn't that simple. And two Florida legislators are trying to ensure that any sadistic acts against animals don't get to stay hidden for long.

It seems that both Democrats and Republicans can agree that animal cruelty should not be tolerated.

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As The Orlando Sentinel reported, both Republican congressman Vern Buchanan and Democratic congressman Ted Deutch of Florida sponsored a new version of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, which didn't get through Congress despite support from both parties.

As Buchanan said, "The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law."

In particular, the bill seeks to punish "crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling animals," as well as any sexual exploitation of them.

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If this bill passes, anybody caught abusing the creatures in these ways could face up to seven years in prison.

The bill is also supposed to improve on a 2010 law that banned a type of shock video known as "crush."

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As the name would suggest, these videos apparently depicted small animals being stomped to death, but any of the acts outlined in the Preventing Animal Cruelty And Torture Act could potentially occur in them as well.

Unfortunately, anyone looking to get around the federal law against crush videos could find a loophole.

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According to The Orlando Sentinel, the 2010 law only applied if the cruelty was actually featured in a video.

If nobody turns a camera on, it doesn't count from a legal standpoint.

Although the proposed bill is intended to close that loophole, it also outlines some exceptions to what it considers cruelty.

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It doesn't apply to actions taken during "normal" veterinary care, nor does it seek to ban hunting or whatever force is necessary to protect one's life or property from an animal-related danger.

As stated above, the bill may not have passed through Congress, but it has already passed unanimously twice in the Senate.

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Two hundred eighty-four House representatives from both parties also supported the bill and it was endorsed by over 200 law enforcement agents when Deutch tried to introduce it in the past.

However, former Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte, blocked the bill from entering the floor at all.

Twitter | @RepGoodlatte

As Holly Gann from Animal Wellness Action told The Washington Post, he vowed to never let it pass, but apparently didn't share his reasons for doing so.

However, Goodlatte is no longer in Congress, which reinvigorates the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act's chances of passing.

This isn't the only animal protection bill trying to make its way through Congress either.

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Other lawmakers reintroduced the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act, which seeks to outlaw possessing, distributing, importing, and exporting the fins themselves and any products containing them.

This is because the process of extracting these fins for shark fin soup involves slicing them off and leaving the shark for dead in the water.

h/t: The Orlando Sentinel