The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation on Tuesday making animal cruelty a federal felony, according to CNN.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture, or PACT, Act was introduced by Florida Reps. Ted Deutch (D) and Vern Buchanan (R).
"The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," Buchanan said in a press release. "Passing the PACT Act sends a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated."
Under current law, only animal fighting is prohibited, CNN reported, and animal abusers are only criminalized “when they create and sell videos depicting the actual animal cruelty.”
Under the PACT Act, animal abusers “can be prosecuted for crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling animals and sexually exploiting them,” making exceptions for hunting.
Anyone convicted of animal cruelty would be looking at federal felony charges, fines and up to seven years in prison, CNN said.
"These malicious acts deserve federal scrutiny and action. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials will finally have the tools they need to bring those responsible for cruelty to animals to justice," said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
The bill now heads to the Senate for a vote, which has yet to be scheduled.