Last year, the FBI began its work with local law enforcement to track animal abuse incidents in its Uniform Crime Report for the first time ever, in recognition of the severity of these crimes. The information collected on the animal abuse incidents will help law enforcement prioritize resources for combatting these crimes.
While there is no federal anti-cruelty statute, the federal government has already put a stake in the ground on animal cruelty issues, and worked to complement state law forbidding animal cruelty with federal statutes. There is a federal law that prohibits the trade in obscene "crush" videos, but there's no penalty for the underlying acts of abuse if no video is ever created. The PACT Act would patch that gap by allowing for the criminal prosecution of puppy mill operators and others who intentionally drown, suffocate, or otherwise heinously abuse their animals.
Over the last three decades, we've gone state-by-state to make malicious animal cruelty a felony in every state (just four states treated animal cruelty as a felony when we began in the mid-1980s). This Act is necessary to fortify that legal framework - equipping federal prosecutors to intervene when animal cruelty extends beyond the reach, ability, or will of state prosecutors to stop it. This is similar to the legal framework on animal fighting. Every state has laws against animal fighting, but the federal government has a strong statute as well that allows it to intervene in cases where warranted, especially when people involved in an enterprise are involved from multiple states or across state lines.