House Bill 2303, which would require regulation, inspection, and potentially high registration fees for dog breeders, has been rescheduled for a vote in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, February 16.
Its companion bill, Senate Bill 2175, has been rescheduled for a vote on Monday, February 22, in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee.
Concerned citizens are urged to immediately contact committee members and respectfully ask them to VOTE NO on these bills as currently written. Now is the best opportunity to stop these bills while they are still in committee. Please scroll down for committee meeting schedules and contact information.
UPDATE: Representatives of the Tennessee Federation of Dog Clubs met with Rep. Art Swann and Sen. Ferrell Haile, bill sponsors, on February 8 to discuss concerns with these bills. Recommendations for amendments to the bills and a draft of replacement bill language were provided. However, as of the time of this message, no amendments to the bills have been posted to the state legislative website.
The American Kennel Club opposes the concept of breeding permits, and specifically laws and regulations that are based on the number of intact dogs a person chooses to own. Therefore, the AKC opposes HB 2303 and SB 2175 as they are currently written. The AKC supports reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who meet their responsibilities.
As currently written, HB 2303 and SB 2175 would:
- Authorize inspections of any location used or suspected to be used by a commercial dog breeder and inspections to investigate complaints without warrant or subpoena.
- Require registration, payment of fees, compliance with rules not yet written, and inspections for “commercial dog breeders”, defined as any person who possesses or maintains 16 or more intact adult female dogs in the state at one time for the primary purpose of breeding or selling, OR who sells 20 or more dogs in a calendar year.
- Although the bills list exemptions for hunting and competition dogs, those exemptions are essentially negated by section 16-12-114, which states that possession of 16 female adult dogs at one time or the sale of 20 or more dogs a year is evidence that ANY dogs possessed or sold are for the primary purpose of breeding and selling.
Additional concerns with SB 2175 and HB 2303 include, but are not limited to:
- These bills would empower the Department of Commerce to write rules for dog breeders and establish fees “sufficient and adequate to cover the administrative costs associated with the registration program”.
Historical note: The fiscal year 2011-2012 costs to administer the Tennessee Commercial Breeder Act that expired in 2014 totaled $365,600 for that year. That worked out to $18,280 of administrative costs for each regulated breeder.
SB 2175 and HB 2303 require that the fees charged to breeders must cover the costs of administration. Assuming similar administrative costs to administer a new breeder registration program, and assuming that the number of regulated breeders increased by a generous 500%, it would be necessary to collect more than $3,650 in fees per year from each registrant just for the program to break even. That’s a huge cost for a person who sells just 20 puppies!
- Section 62-12-104(d) appears to restrict persons who are categorized as “commercial dog breeders” from involvement in home-based animal rescue activities. The AKC Rescue Network is the largest network of purebred dog rescue groups in the U.S. Many small hobby breeders, including nationally-recognized experts in their chosen breeds, could be excluded from participating in rescue activities under these bills. This is not in the best interest of homeless dogs in Tennessee.
- SB 2175 and HB 2303 seek to enact consumer protection provisions for persons who acquire dogs with health disorders; however, the bills do little to assist a person who acquires a sick puppy. The AKC supports reasonable laws intended to protect the pet-buying public in obtaining a sound dog of the breed represented, and has offered model legislation that would accomplish this.
What You Can Do:
Immediately contact members of the committees, politely express your concerns, and ask them to VOTE NO on these bills as currently written. Please contact members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee first, as they are scheduled to consider HB 2303 on Tuesday.
Tennessee dog owners, the best way to get your message heard is to make a phone call. You can leave a message, and be sure to include in your message that you are a resident of Tennessee. Please scroll down for contact information.
A number is listed for each committee that you can call for information if you wish to speak at a committee meeting, to get updates on any amendments to the bills, and to find out if a vote on the bill has been rescheduled again.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources is scheduled to vote on HB 2303:
February 16, 2016, 10:30 a.m.
Legislative Plaza, Room 31
Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
For committee information and updates, call (615) 741-7478
House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Members:
Rep. Curtis Halford, Chairman, (615) 741-7478, email@example.com
Rep. Andy H. Holt, Vice Chairman (615) 741-7847, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. David Byrd, (615) 741-2190, email@example.com
Rep. G.A. Hardaway, (615) 741-5625, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. David B. Hawk, (615) 741-7482, email@example.com
Rep. Bud Hulsey, (615) 741-2886, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Jamie H. Jenkins, (615) 741-6890, email@example.com
Rep. Ron Lollar, (615) 741-7084, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Pat Marsh, (615) 741-6824, email@example.com
Rep. Steve McDaniel, (615) 741-0750, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Debra Moody, (615) 741-3774, email@example.com
Rep. Dennis Powers, (615) 741-3335, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Jay D. Reedy, (615) 741-7098, email@example.com
Rep. Johnny Shaw, (615) 741-4538, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Art Swann, (615) 741-5481, email@example.com – Rep. Swann is sponsor of HB 2303
Rep. John Mark Windle, (615) 741-1260, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to vote on SB 2175:
February 22, 2016, 2:30 p.m.
Legislative Plaza, Room 12
Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
For committee information and updates, call (615) 741-3851
Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Members:
Sen. Steve Southerland, Chairman, (615) 741-3851, email@example.com
Sen. Frank Niceley, Vice Chairman, (615) 741-2061, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Paul Bailey, Vice Chairman, (615) 741-3978, email@example.com
Sen. Mike Bell, (615) 741-1946, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Mark E. Green, (615) 741-2374, email@example.com
Sen. Dolores R. Gresham, (615) 741-2368, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Lee Harris, (615) 741-1767, email@example.com
Sen. Kerry Roberts, (615) 741-4499, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Ken Yager, (615) 741-1449, email@example.com
Concerned citizens are urged to immediately contact committee members and respectfully ask them to VOTE NO on these bills as currently written. Now is the best opportunity to stop these bills while they are still in committee.