Senate passes bill making animal cruelty a federal felony; President Trump expected to sign legislation

WASHINGTON -- A bill making animal cruelty a federal offense has unanimously passed the Senate and is now on its way to President Donald Trump.

The bipartisan The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act expands a previous law passed in 2010.

"Passing this legislation is a major victory in the effort to stop animal cruelty and make our communities safer," said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who sponsored the bill in the Senate along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. "Evidence shows that the deranged individuals who harm animals often move on to committing acts of violence against people. It is appropriate that the federal government have strong animal cruelty laws and penalties."

Current federal law only prohibits animal fighting and only criminalizes offenders if they make and sell videos showing animal cruelty.

But the new legislation would allow prosecution for cruelty and torture.

Those convicted would face federal felony charges, fines and up to 7 years in prison.

"There is no place in a civilized society for maiming and torturing animals - period," Blumenthal added. "Senator Toomey and I have spent years working to hold the barbaric individuals who commit these crimes accountable, and I'm glad that Congress is now finally sending our bill to the president's desk to be signed into law."

President Trump is expected to sign the legislation.

ABC News contributed to this report.
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