SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - A bipartisan bill aimed at cracking down on animal abusers has been introduced to Congress and would make animal cruelty a felony nationwide. It would also close a loophole in federal law that bans videos showing animal cruelty.
If convicted, animal abusers could face up to seven years in prison under the proposed law.
The bill already has support from the Humane Society and the National Sheriff's Association.
Sacramento county has a task force that specializes in animal cruelty cases. How effective is it?
Sydney Barloon has a special place in her heart for all animals.
"They're conscious beings; they love us so much; they're so forgiving," she said.
The veterinarian says our pets' innocence is what makes animal cruelty so difficult for her to process.
"They can't do anything about it; they're left to your care, and to take advantage of that is just cruel," she said.
In California, it's big enough of a problem that the Sacramento County's District attorneys Office recently formed a one-of-a-kind animal cruelty unit. The unit's lead prosecutor, Hilary Bagley-Franzoia, is dedicated to catching and prosecuting animal abuse cases, as felonies.
"It's becoming more prevalent far more egregious in recent years," said Bagley-Franzoia.
Jace Huggins is the chief animal control officer for the City of Sacramento's Front Street Animal Shelter. He's making a career out of putting away animal abusers.
"It's not easy, I wouldn't say, but we do get felony convictions," he said, "Takes a real certain type of person to be able to commit crimes against animals... part of what makes it hard for us is much like regular crime sometimes people don't want to talk or give us statements."
Under a proposed federal law, animal cruelty would be a felony in every state in any circumstance and punishable by up to seven years in prison.
It's unclear though whether the measure will stop animal abuse.
"I don't know that there will be a huge shift or change," said Huggins.
But for Sydney Barloon, it's common sense compassion that can go a long way.
"I hope it just gives people...think about...getting a dog. If they get a dog, can they care for this dog appropriately? Can they feed, shelter, provide warmth for this dog? If they can't, [they] know that there's punishment," she said.
The proposed legislation includes exceptions for hunting.
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