On Monday, November 25, 2019 (the same day the newly fortified PACT Act went into effect), a Kalamazoo Township woman identified as Sarah Beth Stafford, 33, was caught on surveillance camera kicking a small dog that she let out of it's home in the 400 block of Keyes Drive in Kalamazoo Township. The video then shows her repeatedly kicking the puppy, who remained unaggressive during the entire attack.
The video, which was posted to Facebook by the owner of the dog that was kicked, sparked outrage and a lot of questions about what charges she'll be facing, and if this crime is a violation of the PACT Act. Let's talk about the PACT Act, what it is, and when it comes into play.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT Act, makes it illegal to make "crush"/cruelty videos. As defined in the PACT Act, the term 'animal crushing' means actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury.
The term 'animal crushing' means actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury.
The previous PACT Act made it a federal offense to create and distribute crush videos but failed to address the acts of cruelty used to create the video. This oversight was rectified when the President signed the amended law, making the act of crushing a federal offense as well.
For an act of crushing or animal cruelty to become a federal offense, the crime must be committed on federal lands/property, or involve interstate or international commerce. Some examples of federal animal cruelty can include:
abuse of an animal at a national park
video of the abuse of an animal that is distributed across a state or international border.
Most animal abuse cases will be handled locally, where the abuse took place. In the case of Sarah Stafford, the entire incident occurred in one jurisdiction and did not involve federal property. The criteria to make this a federal offense is not met in this case.
Charges have been filed against Stafford for Home Invasion and Animal Cruelty by Kalamazoo Township Police Department, which is currently under review by the Kalamazoo County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. She will be arraigned today on those; however, sentencing will come at a later date.
Stafford's intake record is publicly available on the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office website here --> http://jail.kalcounty.com/DetailPages/InmateDetails.aspx?ReferenceID=128181&InmateID=414994.
This page shows two cases pending, one is 19-003774 Home Invasion, and another is 19-104038 for Animals Running At Large. The Home Invasion charge relates to the November 25 incident. KTPD is seeking a charge of Animal Cruelty in correlation with the Home Invasion case. The Animals Running At Large offense occurred in July of 2019 when Stafford was cited for that offense. She failed to respond to the citation, and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest. The two incidents are entirely unrelated.
As soon as more details are known, we will update this post. I was able to talk more about this incident and the PACT Act with WWMT Reporter Mike Krafcik, and we expect that to be available at 5 and 6 PM tonight.
Thank you to all the concerned people who saw this video and reported it! Special thanks to Kalamazoo Township Police Department for their quick action. By the time I first saw this video when I woke up this morning, Stafford was already in custody.