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Please share this information with Tennessee dog owners, sportsmen, breeders, clubs, and residents who may wish to obtain a locally-bred dog in the future.

Tennessee Senate Bill 511 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 11:30 a.m.  Concerned Tennessee dog owners and breeders are urged to contact committee members and politely ask them to VOTE NO on Senate Bill 511.  

The best opportunity to defeat this bill is in the committee, so please take action by making calls and sending emails TODAY and through Tuesday. Scroll down for committee member contact information.

Under SB 511:

  • Every person who possesses or maintains 10 or more intact female dogs aged 6 months or older for the primary purpose of selling their offspring as household pets would be defined under state law as a “commercial dog breeder,” required to register with the Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance, and be inspected and regulated.
  • The Commissioner would develop fees and rules for commercial dog breeders. Among other sources, the rules and fees could be based on overreaching breeder regulations from any other state.
  • Inspections, including of private homes where dogs are housed, would occur prior to issuing a registration, biennially, upon receipt of a credible complaint, and at any other times at the discretion of the Commissioner. A fee would be charged for each inspection and reinspection.
  • Local governments (county/city) would be authorized to enact additional and more stringent requirements.
  • Commercial dog breeders could not participate in rescue activities—if you rescue, you cannot register; and if you register, you cannot rescue.

Discussion: 

Breeder regulatory bills based on ownership of 10 intact female dogs almost always are followed by more bills to reduce that number to 4—or fewer. Dog owners and breeders who are exempt now because they do not have 10 intact females should not count on that lasting for very long if SB 511 passes.

In other states, this type of law has generally been interpreted and enforced as: “If a female dog is intact, her primary purpose is breeding.” Also, breeders who primarily breed dogs for purposes other than as household pets could be required to register as a commercial dog breeder if they have 10 intact females and any puppy or dog they bred and sold lives in a household as a pet.

Commercial dog breeders cannot operate on land that is not zoned for that purpose. An applicant could be denied registration because of their zoning, sometimes even on land zoned as agricultural. Also, rules often are written to require a breeder to obtain a business license before applying for registration, which many local governments will not issue to a home-based breeder.

Talking Points:

  • Senate Bill 511 is unnecessary. Tennessee already has among the strongest animal cruelty laws in the U.S., coupled with harsh penalties for offenders. When properly enforced, existing laws can and will bring persons who neglect or abuse a dog to justice, regardless of how many dogs that person has or if they choose to breed those dogs.
  • Ownership of unspayed female dogs, regardless of the “intent” or “purpose” for which the dogs are owned, is not a commercial activity and should not be defined or regulated as such.
  • A previous Tennessee dog breeder law did little more than expand state government and create expenses for taxpayers. That costly and unnecessary law was allowed to expire. Tennesseans do not need another law like it.
  • The U.S. government already regulates commercial dog breeders. If a breeder in Tennessee is subject to USDA licensure and operates without complying with that requirement, the breeder can be reported to USDA for federal action, regulation, and oversight.

Visit the AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) Key Issues page on Breeding Regulations and Restrictions for additional information on this issue.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Contact all committee members before 3/17/21 at 11:30 a.m. and respectfully ask them to VOTE NO on Senate Bill 511.  This is the most important action you can take.  Also, ask your friends, family, and other dog owners to make calls and send messages.  Numbers count!

You can leave a voice mail message or send an email message, day or night.  A message can be as simple as:  “My name is ________, I am a resident of ________(city/county) and I ask you to vote NO on Senate Bill 511. Thank you.”

Include additional information and talking points if you wish, but the most important thing is to be heard! Call, send emails, and ask your friends and family to do so. Please send your messages by Tuesday night.

Committee Contact Information:

Senator Steve Southerland, (615) 741-3851, sen.steve.southerland@capitol.tn.gov

Senator Frank Niceley, (615) 741-2061, sen.frank.niceley@capitol.tn.gov

Senator Mark Pody, (615) 741-2421, sen.mark.pody@capitol.tn.gov

Senator Shane Reeves, (615) 741-1066, sen.shane.reeves@capitol.tn.gov

Senator Katrina Robinson, (615) 741-2509, sen.katrina.robinson@capitol.tn.gov

Senator Janice Bowling, (615) 741-6694, sen.janice.bowling@capitol.tn.gov

Senator Paul Rose, (615) 741-1967, sen.paul.rose@capitol.tn.gov

Senator Heidi Campbell, (615) 741-6679, sen.heidi.campbell@capitol.tn.gov

Senator Page Walley, (615) 741-2368, sen.page.walley@capitol.tn.gov

Other Actions You Can Take:

Concerned Tennesseans can also contact bill sponsor, Senator Jon C. Lundberg, at (615) 741-5761 or sen.jon.lundberg@capitol.tn.gov and politely ask him to withdraw Senate Bill 511. This is particularly important if you are a resident of Senator Lundberg’s district, which includes parts of Johnson, Carter, and Sullivan Counties. Be sure to identify yourself as his constituent if you reside in District 4. View District 4 map.

You may also wish to contact your Tennessee state Senator if he or she is not a member of the committee. Respectfully state that you do not support Senate Bill 511 and ask your Senator to join responsible dog owners in opposing the bill.  If you do not know who your Senator is, go to http://www.akcgr.org, scroll down to Find Officials, and enter your zip code and address. Look under Your State Officials to find your Tennessee state Senator. Click on the name to view their contact information. You can also click the box next to their name and click on Compose Message to open an online messaging form. 

AKC Government Relations continues to work in opposition to SB 511, and will provide additional information and calls to action as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at doglaw@akc.org or 919-816-3720.

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