Florida bill would strengthen federal laws on animal cruelty

Pact Act would make animal cruelty felony with stiffer penalties

By Zachery Lashway - Reporter/anchor, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, known as the PACT Act, would strengthen federal laws already on the books against animal abuse.

There have been many cases of animal cruelty and abuse reported in Northeast, Florida, and the bill has bipartisan support in the Florida Legislature, as well as among animal advocates in Jacksonville.

Mike Merrill is the founder of Florida Urgent Rescue, better known as FUR, an organization that saves animals from kill shelters and helps in other serious situations.

"In Northeast Florida alone, we see way too many cases of kittens thrown off bridges, people shooting dogs and cats, embedded collars from dogs chained to trees, people just committing horrific acts of cruelty to animals, and this has got to stop," Merrill said.

A dog named Milo is being helped by FUR after he was found wounded in Crescent City.

"He was shot in the face," Merrill said. "Someone tried to execute him. I'm guessing they tried to shoot him in the head, and when he dropped his head... they were slightly off."

Less than a month later, Milo is recovering in a foster home.

"Despite everything he has been through, he is an amazingly sweet dog," Merrill said.

He hopes the bill passes to make a uniform law to criminalize animal abuse nationwide.

"It makes animal cruelty a felony in all 50 states. It’s already a felony at the state level. The problem is if you cross state lines. If someone commits animal cruelty on federal grounds, including national parks, military bases, it is not covered. And the problem at the state level is the penalties and laws are all over the map," he said.

Merrill said there have been no arrests or charges filed in the case of who shot Milo. Anyone with information about that case or any other case in which animals are being abused or tortured is asked to report it as a crime to animal control. 

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