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March 30, 2015

Committees will vote TOMORROW, March 31, 2015, on two bills of grave concern to all dog owners in Tennessee.  The committees will vote to accept and approve amendments to House Bill 1142 and Senate Bill 1020.  These amendments would delete the current language in the two bills and insert new language that would require dog breeder licensing and would give non-governmental employees access to private homes and farms where dogs are kept.

Concerned citizens are urged to contact committee members today and respectfully ask them to vote NO on these bills.  Now is the best opportunity to stop these bills while they are still in committee. Please scroll down for committee contact information.

As currently written, the proposed amendments to HB1142 and SB1020 would:

  • Require licensing, fees, and inspections for “professional breeders”, including many home-based hobby and show breeders.  
  • Of concern to all dog owners, these bills would grant access to dog owners’ private property and give enforcement powers to “appointees” who are not government employees or law enforcement officers.

Additional concerns with the proposed amendments include, but are not limited to:

A “professional breeder” would be defined as a person who possesses or controls ten or more unsterilized female dogs over the age of 6 months for the primary purpose of breeding and selling the offspring as pets. 

  • A person who chooses to own ten unspayed adult female dogs and who sells even a single puppy could be subject to licensing, numerous fees, inspections, and extensive regulations.
  • Supporters of this legislation have claimed that owners of hunting, sporting, and farming/herding dogs would be exempt from licensing.  However, exemptions are provided only for dogs maintained for the “primary purposes” of hunting, sporting, farm activities, or herding.  No provisions in the bill would exempt such dogs that are part of a breeding program.  No exemptions are provided for show dogs or other competition dogs.
  • Home-based hobby breeders who would be designated under this legislation as “professional breeders” would be in violation of most zoning codes.

The proposed amendments would grant broad powers to non-governmental “appointees” and “designees”.

  • Inspections would be conducted by and violations could be determined by an “inspection designee”. Violations would be subject to penalties of up to $1000 per violation per day.
  • There is no requirement that an “inspection designee”, “inspection official” or “appointee” must be a government employee or a law enforcement officer. 
  • There would be no required screening, science-based training, or governmental certification for “inspection designees”.  Instead, the bills state that an “inspection designee” means a person whose “reputation” is that of “a person with expertise, knowledge and experience in the proper housing and care of dogs”.
  • There appears to be no limit to the number of inspections that might be required. An undetermined fee would be charged for each inspection and, if applicable, each re-inspection.
  • Licensees would be required to submit to inspections of their premises and records upon application for licensure, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and at other times as agreed.

The proposed amendments would empower “appointees” and “designees” to be granted administrative warrants to come onto the property and examine the records of any dog owner in order to determine if a violation is or has occurred. This could be based on a “complaint”.  Failure to allow inspection would be a Class C misdemeanor.

The proposed amendments would empower the commissioner to impose “discipline”, including fines of up to $1,000 per violation per day, on licensees and unlicensed persons.  If a dog owner contested the “discipline”, the commissioner would be empowered to require a licensee or an unlicensed person to pay costs of investigation or prosecution.  No provisions in the bills would provide for reimbursement of these costs if the person who was subjected to “discipline” prevails in a contested case.

The proposed amendments would define any person who acts as a caretaker of or who has custody of a dog as the “owner”.  This could include a dog walker, veterinarian, boarding kennel operator, foster home provider, or animal shelter employee who provides care to a dog.

The proposed amendments would specify the required annual vaccinations that must be given to all dogs that a licensee owns or maintains.  This could outlaw alternate vaccination schedules that were recommended by a veterinarian. This legislation would also make a licensee responsible for the correct procedures and reporting protocols of a veterinarian who performs procedures on a dog owned by the licensee.

The proposed amendments would authorize the Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance or a “designee” to write rules that include, but are not limited to, requirements for dog facilities and housing, primary enclosures, standards of care, veterinary care, and required numbers of employees.  Prior drafts of this legislation included 24 pages of rules and regulations, engineering standards, and other specific requirements. Prior drafts listed annual license fees ranging from $500 to $1000 per year. 

UPDATE:  Senator Ferrell Haile, sponsor of Senate Bill 1020, has indicated that he will offer additional amendments to SB 1020 to address certain concerns.  Information is not available at this time.  AKC Government Relations will be pleased to issue additional informational updates as new information is received.

What You Can Do:

  • Immediately contact members of BOTH committees, politely express your concerns, and ask them to VOTE NO on these bills.  Please scroll down for contact information.
  • Attend the committee meetings and state your opposition: 
    House Business and Utilities Subcommittee Meeting (House Bill 1142)
    March 31, 2015
    1:30 pm
    Legislative Plaza, House Hearing Room 29
    Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243

    Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Meeting (Senate Bill 1020)
    March 31, 2015
    3:30 p.m.
    Legislative Plaza, Room 12
    Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS

House Bill 1142: House Business and Utilities Subcommittee

 

Rep. Art Swann, Chairman

Phone (615) 741-5481

Fax (615) 253-0220

rep.art.swann@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h8.html

 

Rep. Kent Calfee

Phone (615) 741-7658

Fax (615) 253-0163

rep.kent.calfee@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h32.html

 

Rep. Martin Daniel

Phone: (615) 741-2287

Fax: (615) 253-0348

rep.martin.daniel@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h18.html

 

Rep. Brenda Gilmore

Phone: (615) 741-1997

Fax: (615) 253-0361

rep.brenda.gilmore@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h54.html

 

Rep. Marc Gravitt

Phone: (615) 741-1934

Fax: (615) 253-0271

rep.marc.gravitt@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h30.html

 

Rep. Patsy Hazelwood

Phone: (615) 741-2746

Fax: (615) 253-0304

rep.patsy.hazlewood@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h27.html

 

Rep. John B. Holsclaw, Jr.

Phone (615) 741-7450

Fax (615) 253-0310

rep.john.holsclaw@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h4.html

http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h4.html

 

Rep. Pat Marsh

Phone (615) 741-6824

Fax (615) 253-0344  

rep.pat.marsh@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h62.html

 

Rep. Jason Powell

Phone: (615) 741-6861

Fax: (615) 741-0325

rep.jason.powell@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h53.html

 

Senate Bill 1020: Senate Commerce and Labor Committee

 

Sen. Jack Johnson, Chairman

Phone (615) 741-2495

Fax (615) 253-0321

sen.jack.johnson@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s23.html

 

Sen. Mark E. Green, 1st Vice Chair

Phone (615) 741-2374

Fax (615) 253-0193

sen.mark.green@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s22.html

 

Sen. Jim Tracy, 2nd Vice Chair

Phone (615) 741-1066

Fax (615) 741-2255

sen.jim.tracy@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s14.html

 

Sen. Todd Gardenhire

Phone: (615) 741-6682

Fax: (615) 253-0209

sen.todd.gardenhire@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s10.html

 

Sen. Mark E. Green

Phone (615) 741-2374

Fax (615) 253-0193

sen.mark.green@capitol.tn.gov

 

Sen. Dolores R. Gresham       

Phone (615) 741-2368

Fax: (615) 253-0204

sen.dolores.gresham@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s26.html

 

Sen. Steve Southerland       

Phone (615) 741-3851

Fax (615) 253-0330

sen.steve.southerland@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s1.html

 

Sen. Reginald Tate

Phone (615) 741-2509

Fax (615) 253-0167

sen.reginald.tate@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s33.html

 

Sen. Bo W. Watson

(615) 741-3227

(615) 253-0280

sen.bo.watson@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s11.html

 

Sen. Ken Yager        

(615) 741-1449         

(615) 253-0237

sen.ken.yager@capitol.tn.gov

Web page: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s12.html

 

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

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