A new law passed by Congress and the president on Nov. 25, officially made torturing and injuring animals a federal crime.
Donald Trump has signed the new Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act into law, which makes it a federal crime to inflict certain types of animal cruelty anywhere in the nation.
At a signing ceremony witnessed by several elected representatives and other invited guests the president said the United States has a responsibility to “honor the dignity of God’s creation.”
“With today’s act we take the critical step toward being more responsible and main stewards of our planet and all who we want to cherish and take care of, all of those who live on it,” Trump said on a Twitter video. “I will now sign this very important historical piece of legislation and I want to congratulate everybody here.”
Earlier in November the Senate unanimously passed the bill, which expands the scope of a law enacted in 2010 that banned creating or distributing “animal crushing.” The new law also makes underlying acts of cruelty a federal crime.
The White House had just finished welcoming canine hero Conan for a special visit after successfully participating in an October military raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwest Syria.
The Belgian malinois enjoyed having his head scratched by Vice President Mike Pence (R) and could be seen glancing up at him for more attention.
“From battlefields to hospitals, the ranches of the frontier to the backyards of America, from animals of service to animals of war our nation’s animals have played a vital role in the development, security, happiness of our country,” Trump said in the video. “We had a great dog named Conan here just a little while ago. It is very fitting it was on the same day but that is a little bit like what you are talking about common or something, creating quite a stir.”
Trump praised Conan with a variety of adjectives including “incredible,” “brilliant,” “smart,” “ultimate fighter,” “very special,” and “tough cookie.” He also presented a medal and commemorative plaque to the dog, which was allowed to visit without wearing a muzzle.
“He’s not in a bad mood … so you’re safe,” the president said according to the Associated Press. “Right now, probably the world’s most famous dog.”
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) cosponsored the bill, which received overwhelming support from both parties.
Buchanan described the torture of innocent animals as “abhorrent” and the crime should be punished to the “fullest extent of the law,” while Deutch believes the PACT law is a clear sign that society does not accept cruelty against animals.
Animal Wellness Action Director of Federal Affairs Holly Gann welcomed the new legislation, saying it would allow federal authorities to stop “heinous crimes when they occur on the federal level.”
“We as a nation should have no tolerance for animal abuse,” Gann said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press.