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At last week’s meeting of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, a problematic amendment was filed to House Bill 2034.  This bill seeks to create requirements and penalties for tethering/restraining dogs. Because the amendment removed practical exemptions for hunting and working dogs, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has changed its position on HB 2034 from “neutral” to “oppose”.

Tennessee dog owners are urged to contact members of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and ask them to VOTE NO on HB 2034. The subcommittee’s next meeting is Wednesday, March 2, at 9:00 a.m. Please scroll down for contact information.

Concerns with the bill and amendment include:

Some of the exemptions in HB 2034 (as introduced) that would have allowed for safely tethering a dog under certain conditions were deleted by the amendment. This would make it an offense to tether an unattended dog:

  • While the owner and dog are engaged in, or actively training for, hunting or field trialing.
  • In compliance with the requirements of a public camping or recreational area.
  • During agricultural activities.

The amendment also increased the penalty for a violation to a Class B misdemeanor. A second or subsequent offense would be a Class A misdemeanor. Each dog restrained improperly would be a separate offense.

 Why this matters:

 It is already a crime under Tennessee state law to knowingly tie, tether, or restrain a dog in a manner that results in the dog suffering bodily injury.

Also, under existing law, upon a conviction for certain offenses, the dog must be forfeited to a humane society and a court may prohibit the person convicted from having custody of other animals for any period of time the court determines to be reasonable. These significant penalties could apply regardless of whether the dog suffered any harm—or even discomfort—from being tethered or restrained.

What you can do:

 Contact House Criminal Justice Subcommittee members and respectfully ask them to: “Vote no on HB 2034 and amendments to the bill.”  Encourage them to work with knowledgeable dog owners when considering legislation regarding providing care for dogs.

House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Members:

Rep. Clay Doggett, Chair, (615)741-7476,
Rep. Cameron Sexton, (615)741-2343,
Rep. Bill Beck, (615)741-3229,
Rep. Michael Curcio, (615)253-0244,
Rep. Andrew Farmer, (615)741-4419,
Rep. Bruce Griffey, (615)741-6804,
Rep. G.A. Hardaway, (615)741-5625,
Rep. Dan Howell, (615)741-7799,
Rep. William Lamberth, (615)741-1980,
Rep. Debra Moody, (615)741-3774,
Rep. Lowell Russell, (615)741-3736,

View advocacy resources from AKC Government Relations:

The Question of Tethering
Recent Legislative & Informational Alerts
Recent Blogs & Articles
State & Federal Legislation Tracking Map
Key Issues
Toolbox (with downloadable materials)

For additional information, please contact AKC Government Relations at or 919-816-3720.