The United States House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan bill that criminalizes certain acts of animal cruelty.

House Bill 724, also known as the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, strengthens a 2010 law that bans the creation and/or distribution of video that depicts “non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians” being “intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury” in an “obscene” manner and is carried out in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce. Yet, the 2010 law does not make the acts themselves a federal crime. If enacted into law, the PACT Act closes the loophole.

“This bill sends a clear message that our society does not accept cruelty against animals,” says Rep. Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat who introduced the bill. “We’ve received support from so many Americans from across the country and across the political spectrum. Animal rights activists have stood up for living things that do not have a voice. Law enforcement officers have sought a federal overlay to help them stop animal abusers who are likely to commit acts of violence against people. And animal lovers everywhere know this is simply the right thing to do.”

Local animal cruelty laws will not be affected by the PACT Act. Rather, it will be a federal overlay and is modeled after that the federal animal fighting law.

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” says Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Florida Republican who also introduced the bill. “Passing the PACT Act sends a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated. Protecting animals from cruelty is a top priority for me and I will continue to work with Congressman Deutch to get this important bill signed into law.”

A companion bill — S.479 — has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary in the U.S. Senate.

An unrelated bill, the Senate version of the Prevent All Soring Tactics ActS.1007 — awaits action from the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The House passed its version July 25.