US President Donald Trump has signed a bill that makes certain acts of animal cruelty a federal felony, saying it's important for the nation to combat "heinous and sadistic acts of cruelty."

The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act prohibits extreme acts of cruelty when they occur in interstate commerce or on federal property.

The legislation expands on a 2010 law that targeted videos depicting the crushing or torturing of animals, but that did not prohibit the underlying conduct.

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Under the new law, the underlying acts of cruelty would be a federal crime.

An array of animal rights groups attended a signing ceremony Monday in the Oval Office.

Holly Gann of the Animal Wellness Foundation says the legislation will "better protect some of the most vulnerable among us."

However, the base act of animal cruelty was not included, according to Deutch's office.

"Preventing animal cruelty is not partisan; it's part of our values as a country. I'm proud that this legislation moved so swiftly through Congress, with such broad bipartisan support," said Deutch in a statement.

The act does not apply to the slaughter of animals for food, hunting, trapping, fishing, a sporting activity not otherwise prohibited by federal law, medical or scientific research, actions necessary to protect the life or property of a person, or euthanising an animal.