Crush videos include unthinkable acts of violence against animals for entertainment purposes. In 2010, President Obama signed the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act into law, which made selling the videos a crime. In January 2019, U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act. The bill proposed making it a felony to participate in crush videos. It received unanimous support in Congress, and Trump signed it into law this month.
The PACT Act specifically states that it doesn’t apply to animal agriculture, which comprises 99% of the cruelty to animals in the U.S. It also doesn’t include testing on animals, fishing, trapping, or hunting (Trump supported killing bears and their cubs in the Alaska wildlife refuge). Thus, the PACT Act makes animal cruelty illegal for less than 1% of the cruelty against animals in the U.S.
While animal advocates should celebrate any laws that aim to hold animal abusers accountable, this law requires perspective. Stating that the law makes animal cruelty illegal in the U.S. is inaccurate. Headlines such as “Trump Ends Animal Cruelty in the United States” are inconsistent with reality. This bill doesn’t do that, and Trump’s policies have been devastating to animals and their natural habitats.
Further, Trump doesn’t deserve credit for the law. It was a bipartisan effort approved with unanimous consent, contained a republican co-sponsor, and has no lobby opposing it. If Trump didn’t sign it, Congress would’ve easily overrode his veto so his signature was purely decorative. It didn’t take any courage because the law doesn’t impact his core constituencies that harm animals like the animal agriculture and fossil fuel industries. It was a perfunctory step unless Trump wants to woo the animal crush industry for votes.
Signing a bill that had overwhelming public and congressional support doesn’t make Trump an animal advocate. The PACT Act is a step forward to bring people who make crush videos to justice, but it doesn’t make animal abuse illegal. It makes participating in crush videos illegal. And Trump’s record on animals, which you can read about here and here, provides evidence that he has no regard for their well-being. His policies have been crushing animals for the past three years.