Animal advocates say more work needs to be done at state, local level after federal PACT Act becomes law

Local animal rights advocates say more work must be done after PACT Act

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The ‘PACT Act,’ which outlaws animal cruelty and torture, is now a federal law, but Cincinnati area animal advocates believe more work needs to be done.

Reports of animal cruelty and neglect are not unheard of in the greater Cincinnati area. Katherine Hartung, an animal lover and advocate who works in the legal system, says it breaks her heart every time it happens.

“With abuse and domestic violence and stuff, they [animals] are a root, and this where you start," Hartung, a foster with Joseph’s Legacy rescue, said. "If you really want to make an impact and you really want to help society and you really want to make a difference, speak up for those who don’t have a voice.”

Related | Senate passes bill making animal cruelty a federal crime

Hartung said she was glad to see the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or the “PACT Act,” signed into federal law this week.

However, she says it does not make all animal cruelty illegal, only the most extreme forms, like burning, suffocating or sexually abusing an animal. It has already been against the law to make videos of those kinds of incidents.

“The PACT Act doesn’t handle any kind of neglect cases. That’s clear, cut and dry,” Hartung said. "These are very extreme cases, of you know, drowning, impaling, like very, very heinous things.”

The new law, Hartung says, also only applies to people who abuse animals on federal property, like at a national park or a military base, or where there is interstate commerce, like at an airport.

It does not change state or local cruelty laws.

“We still need to stay up with what we’re doing here in Ohio in order to keep up with the animal cruelty that’s going on here," Hartung said.

Hartung said while the PACT Act is a step in the right direction, it is not enough. She believes Ohio needs stricter state laws that would put people who are convicted of cruelty behind bars.

“You have to write your legislator," Hartung said. "You have to stay on the horn. Stay on top of them.”

Hartung said she is hoping legislators will pass Ohio Senate Bill 205, which increases the penalties for people who are found guilty or abusing or killing an animal.

Read more about the PACT Act here.

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