Virginians will soon face harsher punishments for animal abuse.
A bill unanimously passed the House and Senate this week to increase abuse cases from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony. That means up to five years of prison time and the fine can be up to $2,500.
Abuse is defined as unnecessarily beating, maiming, mutilating, or killing a dog or cat.
Right now, an animal needs to die as a direct result of torture, or inhumane injury or pain for the crime to become a felony.
The lawmakers behind this bill say they want to protect all animals.
All that's left is Gov. Ralph Northam's signature.
Copyright 2019 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.