A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, that would make it illegal to eat cats and dogs in the United States passed the House of Representatives this week.

The bill cleared the house along with another bill that "urges China, South Korea and other countries to outlaw and enforce existing laws against the trade of dog and cat meat."

Both bills still need to pass the Senate.

Animal welfare groups have supported the measures as a way to send those countries where dogs routinely are eaten a message that the U.S. takes the issue seriously.

Only six U.S. states currently outlaw the practice.

The slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption is not a problem domestically. In a database search of U.S. newspaper articles, the Washington Post found just a single incidence of someone eating a dog in the last decade. Leading animal welfare advocates told the Washington Post earlier this year that they are not aware of any other episodes of someone eating a cat or dog in the U.S. in the last decade.