Alan Bjerga

Making a meal out of a dog or a cat may soon land you in jail.

An amendment being considered Wednesday by the House Agriculture Committee would change the Animal Welfare Act to 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 all U.S. Department of Agriculture 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.