The law will go into effect on July 1, 2019. 

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has signed a bill into law that changes animal cruelty charges from a misdemeanor to a felony. After the July 1 effective date, perpetrators can receive up to five years in jail and $2,500 in fines. The bill also expands the applicable charges to beating, maiming, mutilating, or killing a dog or cat while, originally, the animal had to be killed in order to receive the harsher punishment. 

"Often times an animal survives as a result of abuse by a perpetrator and they don't receive a felony because the animal lived. This changes that dynamic. Now they can be charged with a felony even if that animal lives, so this is a big help for animals everywhere in Virginia," Angie Gunter said in a statement

The law is called Tommie's Law because of a Richmond pit bull named Tommie who was tortured in February by being tied to a pole and set on fire. Locals were furious and instantly sought justice for the dog, who unfortunately passed away, despite showing brief, promising signs of recovery. 

Courtesy of WTVR CBS 6 News

In addition to the situation regarding Tommie, a dog named Sugar was mauled by a machete in 2016, prompting Virginia State Sen. Bill DeSteph to start putting the bill together 

Residents of Virginia expressed their support for the law:

Justice will be served for the animals that have been abused, neglected, tortured, and killed. They can look down from the "rainbow bridge" and see that their lives were honored. 

The felony for animal abuse is already effective in 48 states

**Featured image Courtesy of WTVR CBS 6 News 

How do you feel about this new law? Are you for or against supporting this? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!