KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Animal cruelty is now a federal crime after President Trump signed a bill into law Monday, and local animal rights advocates are wondering how the change will affect Kansas City’s animal population.

The staff at KC Pet Project say they are seeing more animal cruelty cases than ever, and they’re not sure just how much that new federal law will help the situation locally.

The shelter sees hundreds of abused animals each year, and spokesperson Tori Fugate wonders if violence seen elsewhere around the city is also behind the spike in issues with pets.

“Just in the past week we’ve had three dogs that have been stabbed. We had a dog that was beat with a baseball bat. We’ve had dogs come in deceased, killed by someone. And that’s just in the past week,” Fugate said. “We believe that there is a direct correlation between the rise in violence that we’re seeing in Kansas City as a whole and the rise in violence against animals.”

The bi-partisan bill signed by the president makes animal cruelty a federal crime with penalties of up to seven years in prison. While Fugate said that is a great first start, she also thinks it’s unlikely a lot of animal cruelty cases in Kansas City will make it to a federal court.

It’s rare for a case to make to the state level, where animal abuse can be a Class A misdemeanor or Class E felony. Animal control investigates abuse against pets not police.

So far this year, 626 cases involving some kind of animal cruelty have been referred to the city’s municipal court, where punishments range from up to 18 days in jail to a fine of up to $1,000.

Fugate believes that while federal change is good, efforts to fight animal abuse must start on the local level.

“There really does need to be a hard look at what is happening to animals in Kansas City, and is there anything that can be done on citywide level,” she said.

KC Pet Project is working on a contract with the city to take over animal control. They say when that happens there will be a new initiative to combat animal cruelty in Kansas City.

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