The FBI will begin tracking animal cruelty cases just as they track other crimes, Wayne Pacelle of The Humane Society of the United States said in a blog post Tuesday.

Pacelle said John Thompson with the National Sheriffs' Associationgave him the good news that Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comer has signed off on including animal cruelty offenses in the Uniform Crime Report.

Local agencies will also track cruelty cases to report to the FBI.

"No longer will extremely violent cases be included in the "other offense" category simply because the victims were animals. Just as the FBI tracks hate crimes and other important categories, we will now have critical data on animal cruelty," said Pacelle.

"This is a great step in the right direction," said Annette Laico, CEO of PAWS in Lynnwood. "As advocates for companion animals and wildlife here in Washington state, any national measure to help protect animals to live long healthy lives is a measure we support."

Pacelle said HSUS has been pushing for the change in policy for years. He said without a reporting requirement, there is no way to track the number of reported incidents of animal cruelty cases each year, which impedes efforts to properly focus enforcement resources and violence prevention programs.

Animal cruelty—like other crimes—must be reported, classified, and analyzed in a comprehensive manner that results in swift and efficient enforcement of the law and the general improvement of society, he said.

Pacelle said now that animal cruelty, including animal neglect is included in the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, "there is a real incentive for law enforcement agencies to pay closer attention to such incidents. With accurate data, law enforcement agencies will also be better able to allocate officers and financial resources to handle these cases, track trends and deploy accordingly."