Tennessee committees will vote on Monday and Tuesday on two bills of grave concern to dog owners. Senate Bill 2175 and House Bill 2303 would require regulation, inspection, and potentially high registration fees for dog breeders. Exemptions in the bill for exhibitors, hunters, and fanciers are essentially meaningless. These bills would also authorize warrantless searches of dog owners’ properties.
Concerned citizens are urged to immediately contact committee members and respectfully urge 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 meeting schedules and contact information.
As currently written, SB 2175 and HB 2303 would:
- 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.
- Of concern to all dog owners, section 62-12-107 would authorize inspections of any location used or suspected to be used by a commercial dog breeder and to investigate complaints without warrant or subpoena.
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 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 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 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 concerns.
The Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to vote on SB 2175:
February 8, 2016, 2:30 p.m.
Legislative Plaza, Room 12
Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources is scheduled to vote on HB 2303:
February 9, 2016, 10:30 a.m.
Legislative Plaza, Room 31
Sixth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
Sen. Steve Southerland, Chairman, (615) 741-3851, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Frank Niceley, Vice Chairman, (615) 741-2061, email@example.com
Sen. Paul Bailey, Vice Chairman, (615) 741-3978, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Mike Bell, (615) 741-1946, email@example.com
Sen. Mark E. Green, (615) 741-2374, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Dolores R. Gresham, (615) 741-2368, email@example.com
Sen. Lee Harris, (615) 741-1767, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Kerry Roberts, (615) 741-4499, email@example.com
Sen. Ken Yager, (615) 741-1449, firstname.lastname@example.org
House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee
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, mailto: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, mailto: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
Tennessee committees will vote on Monday and Tuesday on two bills of grave concern to dog owners. Senate Bill 2175 and House Bill 2303 would require regulation, inspection, and potentially high registration fees for dog breeders. Exemptions in the bill for exhibitors, hunters, and fanciers are essentially meaningless. These bills would also authorize warrantless searches of dog owners properties.