Animal advocates hope new abuse bill curbs mistreatment

Last summer in Lutz a dog named Denali survived torture and abuse. She was locked in a cage and purposely set on fire. 

Across the country each year, thousands of cases like Denali's are put into the hands of law enforcement. 

"It's horrific. I can’t imagine it. It’s just something that’s built up over time," said Congressman Vern Buchanan. 

Buchanan and Congressman Ted Deutch hope the PACT act, Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture, will send a loud message to abusers. 

"I think this is going to go a long way to stopping most of that," said Buchanan. 

This week, lawmakers in the House passed the bipartisan act, making animal cruelty a felony. Those convicted could face charges, fines, and up to seven years in prison. 

"There are loopholes and I think a lot of people want to shut those down," said Buchanan. 

Nine years ago, Congress passed the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act. It made the distribution of animal abuse videos illegal, but not the actual act. 

"It's a big win for animal welfare organizations everywhere," said Emily Bach, with the Bishop Animal Shelter

Bach said they've seen the after-effects of animals in bad situations. 

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"They're often very shy. It can be very stressful to be in the shelter environment with all the barking animals," said Bach. 

Bach, like many across the nation, hopes the PACT Act will make a difference.

"Anything we can do to protect these animals," said Bach. 

The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate, where there is a lot of support. Congressman Buchanan is confident it will succeed and be signed into law.