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Animal rights advocates are urging President Obama to sign a recently approved bill that bans the sale and distribution of gruesome “crush videos,” which depict the intentional torture of puppies, kittens, and other live animals.
Congressional leaders in mid-November overwhelmingly passed the legislation—H.R. 5566, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 —to halt what the head of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) calls “the most sickening cruelty” he has witnessed (this link includes a timeline at the end regarding debate over this issue).
The bill targets a seedy industry that profits off the sale of grisly videos containing graphic images of screaming and bleeding puppies, kittens and other animals deliberately tortured for the sexual titillation of viewers.
According to the HSUS, crush videos often feature scantily clad women in stiletto heels crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling helpless animals. The “unimaginable torture” inflected on the animals is often prolonged for minutes or even hours, the organization said.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduced the bi-partisan bill in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in April that overturned a similar, but “unconstitutionally overbroad,” 1999 law. The High Court ruled that law—the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act—was too broad and “therefore invalid under the First Amendment.”
The day after the court’s decision, federal legislators introduced a narrowly crafted bill designed to give law enforcement the tools needed to crack down on creation, sale, and distribution of crush videos.
Sales of those macabre videos have mushroomed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the HSUS said. One website, for example, had more than 700 crush video titles for sale, the organization said.
“After federal judges struck down the law banning the sale of animal crush videos, this horrible and cruel industry stepped into the legal void and resumed its commercial creation and peddling of these videos,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS.
He and other animal rights advocates applaud lawmakers’ efforts to shut down this abusive industry, which “all but disappeared” after Congress enacted the 1999 legislation.
They hope history will repeat itself.
“We need this law on the books to halt some of the most sickening cruelty I have ever witnessed in my life,” Pacelle said. “We urge President Obama to sign H.R. 5566 into law quickly.”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) echoes those sentiments.
“Crush videos depict an extreme form of animal cruelty,” Ann Church, senior director for the group’s Government Relations, said in a written statement. “The ASPCA is hopeful President Obama will voice his conclusive support for this important legislation.”
Anyone convicted under this new bill faces up to five years in prison.