The American Kennel Club Government Relations team (AKC GR) is pleased to report that during the first year of Tennessee’s two-year 2023-2024 legislative session, bills to help protect dogs passed and certain problematic bills did not advance.
AKC GR thanks dog owners, AKC club members, sportsmen, allied organizations, and every individual who contacted their lawmakers about legislation that affects dogs. Special thanks go to members of the Nashville Kennel Club and club president Jon Cole for their dedicated advocacy.
Here are some highlights from the 2023 session, plus bills to watch in 2024:
Positive Bills Enacted
House Bill 472/Senate Bill 195, as originally filed, sought to establish overreaching requirements and engineering standards for “necessary shelter” for a dog. At the request of committee members, AKC GR recommended amendments to protect dogs housed outdoors and to strike certain unreasonable and potentially unsafe requirements. Many of AKC’s recommendations were accepted and both bills were favorably amended. SB 195, as amended, was signed by the Governor as Public Chapter 335 and takes effect July 1, 2023.
House Bill 165/Senate Bill 451 provide protections for service dogs by revising certain provisions for guide dogs in training and penalties for the misrepresentation of service or support animals. SB 451 was signed by the Governor as Public Chapter 194 and takes effect July 1, 2023.
Other 2023 Bills Closely Monitored by AKC GR
House Bill 1126/Senate Bill 1320 require a judge to order payment of restitution by an owner who is convicted of allowing their dog to run loose and the dog causes bodily injury or death to another person or damages another person’s property, including the award of incidental and consequential damages. SB 1320 was signed by the Governor as Public Chapter 226 and takes effect July 1, 2023.
House Bill 398/Senate Bill 183 seek to require mental health evaluation and treatment for juveniles who commit aggravated animal cruelty under certain circumstances. SB 183 was signed by the Governor as Public Chapter 334 and takes effect July 1, 2023.
Bills to Watch in 2024
House Bill 991/Senate Bill 836 seek to prohibit an insurer of homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, or insurance that covers a manufactured or mobile home from making certain changes to or refusing to issue a policy based solely on the specific breed or mixture of breeds of a dog that lives or is cared for on the property. AKC supports this legislation and recommends a friendly amendment. HB 991 is assigned to the House Insurance Subcommittee. SB 836 is assigned to the General Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. These bills carry over to 2024.
House Bill 1320/Senate Bill 835 seek to criminalize restraining a dog with a chain, cord, tether, cable, or similar device under certain weather forecasts and during evacuation orders. A person would not be subject to prosecution unless the person previously received a warning citation. These problematic bills fail to consider that forecasted conditions may not occur where the dog is kept, or that tethers can be used to safely restrain a dog prior to or during an evacuation. HB 1320 is referred to the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. SB 835 was referred by the Senate Judiciary Committee to the General Subcommittee of Senate Judiciary Committee and is unlikely to be considered in 2023. The bills carry over to 2024.
House Bill 467/Senate Bill 568, pursuant to a divorce, annulment, or alimony action, would allow a court to provide for the ownership or joint ownership of any pet or companion animal owned by the parties, taking into consideration the well-being of the animal. HB 467 failed in the Children & Family Affairs Subcommittee of House Civil Justice Committee. SB 568 passed in the Senate. Although it is unlikely to be considered again, SB 568 remains active in 2024. AKC GR will continue to monitor this legislation.
Along with these and other carry-over bills, expect new canine legislation to be introduced and/or amended in 2024. By working together, we can support good legislation and oppose bad bills, thereby protecting our rights to own, exhibit, breed, and enjoy the dogs we love.
If you are not receiving AKC’s legislative alerts by email, visit www.akcgr.org and scroll down to “Sign Up for Alerts. Learn more about key issues that affect dogs and view materials you can download and use in the AKC GR Toolbox.
For additional information, please contact AKC Government Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org.