Statewide alert for Tennessee

3/18/13 UPDATE

Citing massive backlash to the legislation the sponsor of this bill has officially withdrawn the legislation.

_____________________3/14/13 post below_____________________

This information has been updated 3/15/13.

Two bills have been introduced in the Tennessee legislature that would place restrictions on any dog that “belongs to the breed that is commonly know as a pit bull dog. The ownership, keeping or harboring of such a breed of dog shall be prima-facie evidence of the ownership, keeping or harboring of a vicious dog.” 

It is important to note that there is no definition as to what would constitute a “pit bull dog,” making an already vague law that much more open to interpretation.  If passed, we can expect this to be enforced as broadly as possible by officials. This kind of vague language has been upheld in several court cases, though the expense of litigation to the parties involved cannot be ignored.

There is also no information provided about an appeals process to dispute the determination that a dog is a “pit bull dog.”  Tennessee state laws does outline a process which would presumably apply to contesting the designation of a dog as a “pit bull dog.” Ultimately, this would have to play out in court to see how the process would work.

While HB 621 and SB 865 do not single out any specific breed of dog in the text of the bills on the legislature website, there has been an  amendment added that singles out pit bull type dogs. These bills have been assigned to committee, so immediate opposition is needed. HB 621 has been assigned to the House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. SB 865 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Committee contact information provided in the links.)

Tennessee Residents: Reach out now to respectfully oppose these bills.  This legislation is projected to cost the state $9.6 million and will cost countless people their companion animals.  If you are unsure of what to say, Best Friends Animal Society has created a contact form for the Tennessee Legislature that can be found here.

If you would like to e-mail or call to voice your opposition to these bills, you can find your legislators directly through the state’s website. Be polite and factual. The science roundly opposes breed specific laws, and it is in everyone’s favor to avoid emotion when dealing with these issues.

Tips for contacting legislators.

Thank you Ronnie Van Zant with Pit Bull Awareness of Tennessee for the information.

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