Slaughterhouses handling dogs and cats and selling their meat is illegal in the United States.
However, it is legal in 44 states for an individual to privately slaughter these animals for the sole purpose of selling them for consumption.
Florida representatives Vern Buchanan, a Republican, and Alcee Hastings, a Democrat, joined forces to make sure the welfare of cats and dogs is protected and that they are kept off the dinner table.
On Wednesday, the House passed legislation by voice vote that will make it illegal to "slaughter, transport, possess, buy, sell or donate dogs or cats or their parts for human consumption."
#BREAKING: The House has passed the Dog & Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act (H.R. 6720) to keep this brutal industry f… https://t.co/vgSPcKW1MZ— The Humane Society of the United States (@The Humane Society of the United States) 1536780212.0
A $5,000 fine will be imposed on violators, with an exception applicable for Native American tribes "carrying out any activity described ... for the purpose of a religious ceremony." Some tribes in North America traditionally ate dogs, but not cats as they were not an indigenous animal species.
Most tribes report they no longer continue the practice when wild canines like coyotes are available for hunting and trapping.
Buchanan and Hastings collaborated on the "Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2018," beginning in 2017 and are hopeful the Senate will also pass the bill in the fall.
@HumaneSociety @VernBuchanan @RepHastingsFL Thank you for this bill. I pray it leads to a better society that under… https://t.co/E3ShKZDiAA— robbi1 (@robbi1) 1537023185.0
@HumaneSociety @VernBuchanan @RepHastingsFL I believe that cats and dogs have souls, are capable off feeling and ex… https://t.co/oU66yMeede— Donna F. (@Donna F.) 1536864558.0
"I am proud to have championed this effort, which sends a strong signal to the world that the welfare of animals must be taken seriously," Hastings told NBC News.
"This bill is a reflection of our values and gives us a greater standing in urging all other countries to end this horrific practice once and for all."
@HumaneSociety @VernBuchanan @RepHastingsFL Great news! Thanks to all those who supported this important legislation.— Linda M. Mathews (@Linda M. Mathews) 1536786156.0
The House also passed a nonbinding resolution on Wednesday urging China, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, India and other nations "to outlaw the dog and cat meat trade."
The news came as a relief for many people, but most were surprised the practice of eating dogs and cats was still a reality.
@HumaneSociety @VernBuchanan @RepHastingsFL I am overjoyed at this but shocked & saddened we even had to consider y… https://t.co/3O6BsoYlzI— Bitchy (@Bitchy) 1536797218.0
@HumaneSociety @VernBuchanan @RepHastingsFL Taking hold? Who the fuck in the US has been eating cats and dogs?— Coffee Animal (@Coffee Animal) 1536786516.0
@wjxt4 Never in a million years would I have thought this to be happening. So sad if people really are doing this they SHOULD be arrested.— Terry Johnson (@Terry Johnson) 1536860128.0
This animal welfare legislation is a rare exception where lawmakers came to a bipartisan agreement.