Tennessee: Committee to Consider Dangerous Dog Bill on 3/20/13

Tennessee: Committee to Consider Dangerous Dog Bill on 3/20/13

On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, the Tennessee House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee is scheduled to consider House Bill 621, which would enact problematic definitions of “dangerous” and “vicious” dogs and require the owner of a dog so defined to secure an insurance policy in the amount of $25,000 against liability for any injuries inflicted by the dog.

AKC’s concerns with HB 621 include, but are not limited to:

  • A dog would be declared dangerous (or vicious) for biting or attacking another animal. Under these provisions, a terrier that killed a mouse or a herding dog that defended its flock against predators could be declared dangerous or vicious.

  • A dog that is “possessed of tendencies to attack” other animals would be declared dangerous.  This broad definition would encompass pet dogs that chase—and sometimes catch—squirrels, birds, and other wildlife.

  • A dog would be declared “dangerous” based on the vague provision that it was “capable” of causing serious bodily injury or death to humans or other animals or was a danger to property.


The AKC understands that an amendment to HB 621 has been proposed that would define a dog that “belongs to a breed commonly known as a pit bull dog” to be vicious. The AKC opposes breed-specific proposals of this type. This proposed amendment is not part of current legislation could be taken up at the subcommittee hearing.

The American Kennel Club supports reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws to govern the ownership of dogs. The AKC believes that dog owners should be responsible for their dogs. We support laws that: establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as “dangerous” based on stated, measurable actions; impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners; and establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous. The AKC strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be “dangerous” based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs.

What You Can Do:

Contact subcommittee members to respectfully state your concerns with HB 621 and any proposed amendments that would declare a dog to be vicious based on its breed or appearance.

Representative Ron Lollar (subcommittee chair) rep.ron.lollar@capitol.tn.gov , (615) 741-7084
Representative Brenda Gilmore, rep.brenda.gilmore@capitol.tn.gov, (615) 741-1997
Representative Curtis Halford, rep.curtis.halford@capitol.tn.gov , (615) 741-7478
Representative Andy Holt, rep.andy.holt@capitol.tn.gov , (615) 741-7847
Representative Judd Matheny, rep.judd.matheny@capitol.tn.gov , (615) 741-7448
Representative Billy Spivey, rep.billy.spivey@capitol.tn.gov , (615) 741-4170
Representative John Tidwell, rep.john.tidwell@capitol.tn.gov , (615) 741-7098
Representative Ron Travis, rep.ron.travis@capitol.tn.gov , (615) 741-1450

Attend the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee meeting.  According to Committee Chairman Lollar’s office, two proponents and two opponents of HB621 may speak before the committee.  Each speaker will be allowed three minutes.

When:  March 20, 2013, 1:30 p.m.
Where:  Room 29, 301 Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243

For questions or more information, please contact AKC Government Relations at doglaw@akc.org or
(919) 816-3720.