Senate passes PACT Act to make animal cruelty a felony

(Wichita Animal Action League)

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that makes animal cruelty a federal offense.

The PACT Act, which stands for "preventing animal cruelty and torture," passed the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support.

The president and CEO of the Humane Society released a statement hailing the bill's passage.

PACT will revise a previous law passed in 2010.

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

PACT allows prosecution for criminal acts including crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, and impaling animals and sexually exploiting them. There are exceptions for hunting.

Offenders would face felony charges - with fines and up to seven years in prison.

The bill now goes to the president's desk.