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Tennessee: Problematic Forfeiture Bills to be Heard Next Week

(Friday, March 22, 2013)

House Bill 462/Senate Bill 581, which would make changes to animal seizure laws, will be considered on Tuesday, March 26.

Under current law, seized animals may be placed with any governmental animal control agency or humane society. The agency may petition the court to order the accused to post an amount sufficient to secure reasonable costs for care of the animal pending disposition of criminal charges. If security is not posted within 15 days, the animal is forfeited. The court may suspend the posting of security charges for an indigent person.

HB462/SB581 would broaden the scope of who is allowed to take custody of seized animals to include “any governmental animal control agency, law enforcement agency, or their designee.” It would also reduce the number of days to post security from 15 to 10 days and delete the authority of the court to suspend the posting of security of a person found indigent.

Both current law and HB462/SB581 could force owners to relinquish their animals when they are accused of cruelty, regardless of whether the charges are ultimately dismissed. Further, neither current law nor HB462/SB581 provides for the return of posted security amounts if the charges are dropped or the accused is found not guilty.

HB462 has passed the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee. It will be heard by the full House Finance Ways & Means Committee on March 26. SB581 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 26.

What You Can Do:

Attend the committee meetings or contact committee members to express your concerns:

Regarding HB462:
House Finance, Ways & Means Committee Meeting
When: March 26, 2013, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Room 16, Legislative Plaza, 301 Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
Click here for a list of committee members, and then click on each member’s name for contact information.

Regarding SB581:
Senate Judiciary Committee Meeting
When: March 26, 2013, 1:00 p.m.
Where: Room 12, Legislative Plaza, 301 Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
Click here for a list of committee members, and then click on each member’s name for contact information.

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

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