RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill that would increase the penalty for cruelly and unnecessarily beating, maiming, mutilating or killing of a dog or cat.

The bill, SB1604 introduced by the Delegate Bill DeSteph, Jr. who represents part of the City of Virginia Beach, now heads to Governor Northam's desk.

“We are thankful for the overwhelming support for SB 1604, my Animal Cruelty bill seeking felony charges against those who maliciously wound an animal,” said Senator DeSteph.  “We have heard from folks all over the Commonwealth who share our belief that anyone who intentionally tortures a dog or cat is a threat to public safety, and should be dealt with severely.”

The Virginia Senate passed the bill, but not an amendmenut that would have changed one word from 'and' to 'or.'

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The bill will increase the penalty of cruelty to animals charge from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 Felony. Current law requires the dog or cat to die as a result of the torture or inhumane injury or pain before the violation is a Class 6 felony. 

The law was also limited to a cat or dog that is a companion animal. The proposed bill would include a felony charge for the killing of any cat or dog.

The bill alone was unanimously passed by House and Senate.

Click below to view the full bill: