Animal abusers will soon face harsher punishments in Virginia

By Heather Butterworth - Digital Content Producer

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. 

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