Lori begins by reflecting on the most important animal news story of 2019, the passage of the PACT Act (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act) into law. Its passage reflects the growing understanding that for some types of animal related crimes, federal laws are needed to effectively address them. The roots of the PACT Act lie in the 2010 passage of the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, which was passed to prohibit the creation or distribution of videos depicting animal cruelty and torture. Crush videos, showing actual killing of small animals, often by women in high heeled shoes (and providing bizarre sexual gratification for some viewers) were a prime target for this legislation.
But the animal crush and torture law had a big deficiency; it did not prohibit the actual act of abuse. It only was concerned with possession and distribution of the videos.
It was hard to bring action under state law because it was often not possible to determine where the cruelty and killings were committed. Apropos to the discussion was the Michael Vick dog fighting story (which itself was instrumental in raising public awareness about animal cruelty around us). As it turned out, Vick did not go to prison for actual animal cruelty. Rather, he plead to federal charges of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and sponsoring a dog in an animal fighting venture. Had the PACT Act been in place, instead of serving a mere 18 months in prison, Michael Vick probably would have been sentenced to seven years.
The PACT ACT was strongly endorsed by HSUS head, Kitty Block, and when President Trump signed the bill into law, on November 25, 2019, he noted that it was long overdue. The full text of the law is here:
Then, in recognition of World Rabies Day, Dr. Robert Reed joins Lori to explain rabies, the nature of the virus and the disease it causes, and the current risks to people, dogs and cats in the US. Fortunately, thanks to the widespread use of vaccines, rabies cases are rare.
Note: Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of mammals. It invariably causes swelling of the brain and death after a relatively short illness.
Peter then welcomes back to the show Professor Clive Wynne of the Arizona State University Canine Science Collaboratory to speak about the stress dogs have while in shelters. His group is working on developing ways to reduce the stress of dogs there.
Finally, enjoy another famous quiz, this one about popular song titles with animals.