In a momentous change to US animal welfare legislation, the president signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) into law on Monday, making animal cruelty a federally prosecutable crime for the first time.

LFT would like to thank the almost 40,000 readers who signed our petition and wrote to their legislators to help this crucial bill pass. Our voices, and those of animal advocates across the nation, were heard!

This welcome move is the final step in progressing the bill after the Senate unanimously passed it earlier this month. The law will prohibit violence against animals, including suffocation, burning, crushing, impalement and drowning among other acts that cause bodily harm. If found guilty, perpetrators of these horrific crimes could face up to a 7-year prison sentence as well as a fine.

The bipartisan bill is designed to plug holes in the current law and make it easier to prosecute incidents of animal cruelty that cross state lines or are committed in areas that come under federal control. It is an extension of a 2010 law banning videos showing animals being tortured, and adds the deliberate acts of cruelty in these videos to the list of prosecutable felony crimes.

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” commented Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who introduced the act along with Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). “Signing this bill into law is a significant milestone for pet owners and animal lovers across the country.”