Nov. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a bipartisan bill into law that makes animal cruelty a federal crime.
The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, which unanimously passed both Congress earlier this month and the House in October, revises and expands upon an earlier bill against making and distributing videos of animal cruelty.
The bill now criminalizes the crushing, drowning, suffocating, impaling and seriously harming of animals and punishes those convicted with fines and up to seven years in prison.
"It is important that we combat these heinous and sadistic acts of cruelty, which are totally unacceptable in a civilized society," Trump said Monday at the White House before signing the bill.
The bipartisan bill, introduced by Congressmen Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla., builds on the previous Obama-era law that prohibits the creation and distribution of so-called animal crush videos by criminalizing the acts being filmed.
The Humane Society of the United States said the new law closes a "glaring loophole" that prevented federal law enforcement from taking legal action against those who commit animal cruelty within federal jurisdiction unless the crime was recorded.
"Now, as a result of this law, federal law enforcement and prosecutors will have recourse when the crimes occur on federal property, such as national parks or federal prisons, or in interstate commerce, regardless of whether a video was produced," said Humane Society President Kitty Block and the organization's legislative fund President Sara Amundson in a joint statement.
Block said the law shows Americans value animals and believe they deserve protection at the highest level.
"The approval of this measure by the Congress and the president marks a new era in the codification of kindness to animals within federal law," she said in a separate statement. "For decades, a national anti-cruelty law was a dream for animal protectionists. Today, it is a reality."
Buchanan called the passing of the law a "milestone" for animal lovers nationwide.
"The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," he said after the bill was passed by Congress earlier this month.
He said it was fitting that both the bill's signing and the honoring of Conan occurred on the same day.
"We have a responsibility to honor the dignity of God's creation," Trump said. "With today's act, we take the critical step toward being more responsible and humane stewards of our planet and all who we want to cherish and take care of, and all of those who live on it."