House Panel Approves Ban on Killing Dogs and Cats for Meals

(Bloomberg) -- Making a meal out of a dog or a cat may soon land you in jail.

An amendment added Wednesday to a farm bill that was approved by the House Agriculture Committee would bar people from "knowingly slaughtering a dog or cat for human consumption," as well as transporting or participating in other commercial activity related to eating pet meat.

Dog and cat slaughter is extremely rare in the U.S. and already prohibited in commercial slaughterhouses. But consumption of animals commonly considered as pets and companions in American culture still takes place among some immigrant groups. Only a handful of states, including New York, New Jersey and California, ban such small-scale butchering.

Violators would be subject to up to a year of imprisonment, a fine, or both. The proposal would be part of a reauthorization of Agriculture Department programs.

Organizations including the Humane Society of the United States have been crusading against dog-and-cat slaughter worldwide, with acting President Kitty Block calling the farm bill an "ideal vehicle" for advancing the ban. The amendment by Republican Representative Jeff Denham of California is similar to a bill introduced by Democratic Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida that has 239 co-sponsors.

The $867 billion farm bill approved by the House Agriculture panel would reauthorize all U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, including farm subsidies and food stamps. A new law is due by Sept. 30, when existing programs begin to expire. The Senate Agriculture Committee has yet to consider a proposal.

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