Torturing, mutilating or disfiguring an animal would also be a felony under the measure, called Susie's Law.
The bill was named after an 8-week-old puppy that was tortured and burned and left to die in Greensboro. The suspect in that case received probation, despite pleading guilty to felony animal cruelty.
"The bill before you today raises the bar," Sen. Don Vaughan, D-Guilford, said. "Susie has created an awareness that those who torture animals ought to receive jail time, and that's just what this bill does."
The bill, which must be ratified by the state House before Gov. Bev Perdue signs it into law, will become effective Dec. 1.
Susie is now a year old and living a happy, full life with her adoptive owner.