Tag Archives: tennessee statewide breed specific legislation

Tennessee groups are putting together demonstration for March 20th

3/18/13 UPDATE

Citing massive backlash to the legislation the sponsor of this bill has officially withdrawn the legislation.

_____________________3/16/13 post below_____________________

Pit Bull Awareness of Tennessee’s Ronnie Van Zant, Operation Education’s Tiffany Gaylon and Labor of Love Animal Welfare Project’s Laura Love are jointly organizing a peaceful demonstration on March 20th at 1pm at the state capitol.

The demonstration will be at the base of Capitol Hill, 650 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville, TN, 37243, across from the Bicentennial Mall.

From Ronnie Van Zant “This will be a peaceful protest. Signs are welcome and encouraged, as long as they are tasteful. Dogs are welcome and encouraged, as long as they are well behaved and socialized. This protest is against BSL in the state as a whole, but focused on the withdrawing of the amendments proposed by Representative Brenda Gilmore, to add regulations and restrictions on pit bull ownership in the state. These bills include House Bill HB621 and Senate Bill SB865

This is the flier for the event for those who want to print out copies to distribute or share online to rally support.

For those who may want to attend the subcommittee meeting as well as the demonstration, please remember that appropriate dress and decorum go a long way in opening the lines of communication with lawmakers.  One of the lessons we can learn from Broward County is that the way we conduct ourselves will determine how lawmakers respond. Keep in mind when attending these types of formal meetings that you are representing all dog owners.

Thank you Pit Bull Awareness of Tennessee and Ronnie Van Zant for the continued updates.

Tennessee update

3/18/13 UPDATE

Citing massive backlash to the legislation the sponsor of this bill has officially withdrawn the legislation.

_____________________3/15/13 post below_____________________

This update comes via Pit Bull Awareness of Tennessee:

It seems like there is A LOT of misinformation going on around the proposed amendments to HB621 and SB865. There have been several releases of documents on various different sites which have conflicted information in them. Several sites have the proposed amendment showing no mention of pit bulls and several other sites show where it clearly states that pit bulls should be considered vicious… with that said, until the proposed amendment is entered by Rep Gilmore and is on the states site directly, we are in a wait and see situation until something concrete comes from the state itself.”

Read more here.

There are two different versions of this bill circulating.  Frankly both versions are concerning because of the language employed. In the one version available on the states website there is a section that reads “Any dog which because of its physical nature and vicious propensity is capable of causing serious bodily injury, as defined in this section, or death to humans or other animals and would constitute a danger to human life or property;” Full text of the bill to be found here.

This language is so vague as to be applicable to virtually any dog. One thing that dangerous dog laws need for enforcement is specificity, which this language does not have. There is no definition as to what a “vicious propensity” constitutes. This leaves any dog open to having people taken to court to fight a dangerous dog declaration because of the municipalities perceived idea of what the breed of dog may be or a perceived idea of what constitutes a vicious propensity.

The previously posted amendment says that a vicious dog will include dogs which “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.” 

We discussed the issues with this language here.

The status of this amendment as of right now is that it has been proposed as a change to the two bills that have been introduced to address vicious dogs in Tennessee. They must first go through several legislative steps in order to be passed.

We feel that from a public safety stand point not only should the proposed amendments be opposed, but also the language highlighted in the bills that is in the version on the states website should also be opposed.

HB 621 has been placed on the calendar for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee for March 20th. SB 865 has yet to be set for  a date.

Tennessee residents: Please reach out to express your concern about both the proposed amendment to these bills and the vagueness of the language of the bills as they stand now.  Just because a specific breed is not mentioned in the current versions, does not mean these bills would not impact owners in a breed specific way.

Contact information for the Agricultural and Natural Resource Subcommittee can be found here. You can find you respective legislators here.

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.