HB621/SB865 would regulate pit bulls in Tennessee

Amendments to bills currently pending in the Tennessee House and Senate would regulate the ownership of and automatically label “pit bulls” as vicious dogs at the state level.  House Bill 621 is sponsored by Representative Gilmore, and Senate Bill 865 is sponsored by Senator Tate, and proposed amendments to those bills came to light earlier this week.  Please note, the addition of the breed specific language is a proposed amendment, and is not reflected in the bills posted on the Tennessee Legislature’s website.  A copy of the proposal, however, is below.

The amendments will be heard and voted on at the upcoming hearing in the House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.  That is the purpose of this call to action — to ensure that these amendments do not make it out of committee, and YOU play a very important role in making that happen.

HB621 has been assigned to the House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

SB865 has been assigned to has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee

House Bill 621 is set for a hearing in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in room HHR29. The hearings begin at 1:30 p.m., but there are twenty-nine bills on the schedule, and HB621 is number 24 on the agenda.

TENNESSEE RESIDENTS: please reach out to the members of both the House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as your respective legislators, and ask them to oppose these bills.  Breed discriminatory ordinances promote a false sense of security in communities and actually put their constituents at risk to the truly dangerous dogs not designated as such because they don’t meet the physical characteristics established by breed discriminatory laws. A dog’s appearance or breed has no bearing on the risk or danger that any dog poses to a community, and strongly enforced breed-neutral dangerous dog laws that target irresponsible and reckless dog owners benefit the entire community – people and animals alike.

Please also write to the sponsors of each bill and politely and respectfully ask that they withdraw their bills:

Senator Reginald Tate

Representative Brenda Gilmore

House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources
(Block copy and paste e-mail for committee members)
rep.ron.lollar@capitol.tn.gov, rep.brenda.gilmore@capitol.tn.gov,
rep.curtis.halford@capitol.tn.gov, rep.andy.holt@capitol.tn.gov,
rep.judd.matheny@capitol.tn.gov, rep.billy.spivey@capitol.tn.gov,
rep.john.tidwell@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ron.travis@capitol.tn.gov

Senate Judiciary Committee 
(Block copy and paste e-mail for committee members)

You can find the legislators for your district here.

The fiscal note for these two bills indicates the law, if passed, would have no impact on municipalities.  However, the fiscal note presented in response to similar bills proposed in 2007 reflected a significant cost to municipalities (i.e. tax payers) to enforce a breed specific ordinance in the state of Tennessee.

You can estimate the cost these laws would have Tennessee tax payers by using the Best Friends Fiscal Impact Calculator.

As always, please be polite and respectful in all your communications with legislators. Remember, you are representing responsible dog owners as a whole.

Click on the picture below to enlarge the text to read the proposed amendments.

SB621 p1SB621 p2SB621 p3SB621 p4


44 responses to “HB621/SB865 would regulate pit bulls in Tennessee

  1. I think this bill comes from ignorance of those who have not spent time with a family pet pit.My dog is gentle and loyal,hes great with kids(they are after all the nanny dog).Obedience and good behavior are taught in dogs just like with children. Are we to assume that if children misbehave then they will be up on the next vote?Its crazy,pets aren’t the issue its bad owners and people judging these animals without first hand knowledge.I can honestly admit I was timid of getting our pit cause I always heard they were vicious,but I was wrong. I was ignorant and believed the media.I now know differently and to be honest… I would choose my dog over alot of people. Hes more loyal!!!

  2. I have three pit bulls. They are the most loving and gentle creatures. All three of them live together, for eight years so far, and even eat out of the same food bowl. They have never been violent towards each other or any human being. I have had many pit bulls in my life and many of my friends have them, too. I have never encountered a vicious pit bull. I believe the goverment is basing this on the evil dog fights that go on. An owner raises the pit bull, which determines how their personality comes to be. If anything the government needs to focus more harsher penalites for animal abusers and dog fighters. Even fighting dogs can be rehablitated into gentle animals. They just need tender loving care, as we all do. Pit bulls need a voice too! So, I speak for mine.

  3. Hi! My name is Brian Paone, of Knoxville, TN, and I’m here to destroy HB 621.

    Considering the recent changes that have been made (specifically, eliminating the breed-specific legislation and attempting to cast a REALLY wide net over what constitutes a “vicious dog”), it shouldn’t be too difficult. My plan was pretty much to use that wide net against the measure itself – now it’s far too broad to be considered enforceable and, as a result, opens up municipalities to potential legal exposure. (“What do you mean you didn’t have the money to make sure Bob’s Golden retriever didn’t have insurance?! Look at its size and breed bite statistics! I’m suing the police too dammit!” And so forth.)

    Add the fiscal note for enforcement, throw in a bit of an inference that the state has better things to do with their time than try to tell dog owners what’s vicious and what isn’t (I wonder how many supporters even OWN dogs?), and this seems like a pretty standard counterattack.

    Am I missing anything?

    (Updated proposal available at the Capitol’s website: (Note changes to 6(A) – paragraph iii has been completely removed.) http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/108/Bill/HB0621.pdf

    Oh, and ETPBR sent me. For whatever that’s worth. -bp

    • Thanks Brian. The amendments have not been introduced yet, and they were never reflected in the bill found on the Tennessee Legislature’s website. The amendment that would include the breed specific language is to be introduced at the Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, which is why we want people to reach out to their legislators BEFORE this ever gets introduced in the hopes of eliminating any possibility the amendment makes it out of committee.

  4. I wld like for people to stop saying that every pitbull is vicious my family show and work pitbulls and none of them are human aggressive .is it fair to say that one race of people should be band because what a few has done if tht was the case there would be no one left in America . So I ask you do not punish all of us over the action ‘s and negalance of few irresponsible people. I would hate to think that a murderer can live where they like after they get out of prison but my dog that has hurt noone can’t live in Tennessee. So I ask you to please oppose the ban on my dog

  5. Jessica Maynard

    This doesn’t even make sense to make a vicious dog law when it still consists of breed specific laws! We have fought bsl in the specific county I live in and beat it two years ago.. how can it just be changed again .. punish the irresponsible owners not the breed.

  6. Read the facts and examine the facts. Get qualified animal behaviourists in etc. pit bulls are dogs, humans need legislating against. If someone owns a pit bull the human must feed him/her well, give a good walk daily and give that dog loads of love, cos they love to sleep in the nook of your knees.

  7. I sent an email to each one of the committee members on the list you provided as well as to my own representatives! Hopefully it will help. Its unfair and I hope this amendment will not go through. I hope I did my part to speak for all those dogs that cannot speak for themselves, and I hope I made my own furry ones proud today!

  8. Reblogged this on A Heartbeat at My Feet and commented:
    We interrupt our regurally scheduled 28 Things You’re Going to LOVE about Cooper to bring you this super duper urgent (and crappy) news out of Tennessee. If you are a Tennessee resident, PLEASE write your state representatives!

  9. Stop this ban please.

  10. Please stop with the breed legislation already. These animals are not vicious and should not be classified as such. Our government has no business telling the taxpayers of this state what kind of dog they can have in their family. If you want to pass laws pass something that makes sense. Stay out of peoples lives and realize you work for the taxpayer. If you would pass some decent animal abuse laws and spay neuter legislation, anti-chaining ordinances etc then you would have an affect on something worthwhile. Please educate yourselves on animal behavior before you start introducing legislation on some poor dog for being born a specific breed.

  11. Please do not discriminate against the pit bull breeds,the first and most decorated Military war dog was a pitbull and they are used now in every branch of our military and by law enforcement all over the country. There are many more people attacked or bitten by small dogs than pits. It use to be the German Shepherd,Rotties,Chows,that were labled as the meanest dogs on earth and now it is the pits. GS and Pits are used as service and therapy dogs all over our country,it is not the breed but the owner that makes any dog the way they are. What has happened to our freedom in America,we can’t even have our choice of a pet,just what are our troops fighting and dying for,if not for freedom?

  12. I sent emails to every person on the lists above AND to


    My district rep and senator

    No one..not even the government should be able to say who can be a member of my family or have the right to tell me they can’t be and I have to get rid of them. If my dog goes then so do the people that will have to come to my house and TRY to take them from me !

  13. My 12 year old pit bull has never made an aggresive move toward anyone. I volunteer at a rescue that has several pit bulls. I have handled all of them. They are one of the most loving dogs I have ever been around. I have owned a 2 lb. Yorkie that would bite in a skinny minute. Leave this breed alone. Make stiffer laws for abuse and dog fighting not breed specific discrimination.

  14. I wish people and Law Officials would do their research before they pass laws and bills that hurt or discriminate. The pit bull breed has been given a bad rap due to news media. I have done some research and found that anytime a attack is made by a pit bull or a breed that is mixed with pit bull the press will always give it front page coverage or extra media time. If the breed is other then pit the article will be small and hidden somewhere deep inside the paper where it could barely be found(easily missed by many readers). The news media will never gave it a thought for air time. Attacks were equally as deadly and harmful to victims. Some of the breeds that have been more noted to bite or cause harm to adults or children are as follows, Dalmations, Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers.

    All dogs can be vicious if not given the proper love ,care, training and secure environment that they require. This may be extreme but it is similar to raising a child, if you allow a child to grow up with out any love , rules and an unsupervised environment then you may have an adult who will end up being a menace to society.

    FYI: At age six I had to be rushed to the hospital because I was clawed under my eyes by a Collie, I was only trying to pet him. His name was Troy. Trust me it was not a vicious attack, I could only guess that the way I raised my hand to pet the dog may have been viewed as a threat or maybe he just jumped up to give me a big kiss.

  15. This is no better than picking in a certain race. Its an animal a dog. I know poodles are just as viscious. Dont put a breed down just because of a bad rap. Celebrities act up and their heroes, i love bullies and have had several none have ever turned or even bitten another dog.

  16. i love Pit Bulls..I love any breed of dog..I had a Pit Bull and he was the best dog I ever had..Its the owners NOT THE BREED..In April of 2012 my 6yr old son was viciously attacked by a Dog in my neighborhood, that WAS NOT A PIT BULL…….It was the dogs second attack on a child. Marshall County here in TN allowed them to have the dog back. The owners of the dog are rude ppl and didnt care that my son was attacked, my son use to play with their grand-daughter and never told us about the dog was vicious, ..the dog ripped through his shorts, his boxers, left bruises all over his belly, thighs, and legs..he had to have stitches..if my son didnt fight back he could of been hurt even worse… No Lawyer will take it b/c our son was ripped to shreds enough. Its pretty sad. ITS THE OWNERS NOT THE BREED… My son has a nasty scar on his thigh. ..But I do not believe its the breed its how the owners raise a dog. Pit Bulls are very loyal Dogs…Right now i have a Golden Retriever, but eventually when i get a bigger house I will get another Pit Bill so our Retriever has another fur buddy.

  17. Joyce Spradley

    Why do this to this to the animals and the resposible pet owners? Does it not make more sense to go after the humans that make these animals vicious? Tennessee needs to wake up and realize animal abuse is a growing problem and make the laws stricter. Not slap these humans on the wrist! If you let this go thru who gets to do your dirty work and round these sweet animals up and euthanize them? Or has anyone thought of that? Are you going to put it off on the animal control officers, police, vets, or who? Do you realize the mental anguish that puts them thru? Maybe you would if you had to do that just one time. So please don’ let this happen.

  18. I agree with all above posts…….it’s not the pitts fault that people are so mean. If pittbulls are treated rite they are not vicious dogs at all…..they are very loving, friendly & loyal companions. PLEASE DO NOT PASS THIS BILL. ITS JUST NOT RIGHT….NOTHING RIGHT ABOUT IT.

  19. Reblogged this on a little bit me and commented:
    Please reach out to your legislators to stops this! No breed is inherently dangerous – it’s the owners who fail to treat them properly are the ones who are dangerous.

  20. Most dogs labeled “Pit Bulls” aren’t even a Pit Bull. This measure will kill many of dedicated, loving, family members. In places like Detriot, they use a set of characteristics to define a pit bull, it’s been proven in hundreds I studies that most people can’t tell te difference between a Pit and other breeds that share their physical traits.
    This is discrimination and racism at its finest, ban the fear/ignorance and start educating people.

  21. Stephanie Hahn Nolan

    Having lived in the Northeast all of my life until just over three years ago, I can assure my new state government that I did come down here to meet with the same over-reach of government from which I fled in Vermont! Moreover, I have learned so much about the sweet nature of these beautiful animals, and will become an activist in no time flat! I’ve already mailed fifteen letters, and it took about ten minutes, thanks to the complete information provided above! I hope we can make a difference quickly!

  22. No we really need to wake up this just isn’t a ban on pit bulls because there’s like 30 breeds of dogs people call pit bulls and Hines 57 mixes in-between so its not just pit bulls there attacking but most of these breeds have strong dna traits from the English baiting dog the strong characteristics these dogs have were breed into them hundreds of years ago the were gentle family dogs with high tolerances to pain vary loyal to there family proven during the world wars don’t come into my house with the intent of doing my family wrong! My 2 year old rides pit bull like a horse bites her tail and she watches over my son like a Spartan warrior turned nanny. Theses dogs were breed to be awesome hunting dogs used to kill game witch the wickedness of man turned to a gambling type spectator sport. Hunting has been and in my opinion will always be a form of survival and providing for your family but the killing of animals for entertainment as been around since the ancient Roman Empire. If a nation can be judged by how they treat there animals I am ashamed to be an American. I think that Tennesseans appose this law and are proper law abiding citizens how raise there dogs in proper manners and do not use them for illegal affairs should write your representative lets show them what these dogs really are loyal love able pets who will take down a wild boar to feed your family or go to a pulling show and pull 6000 pounds for and give it 200%! Or the lazy coach potatoes. To own one is to love one feel in love with one I am a vet and have ptsd and some days are better than others and days in the past have been worse but a red nose pit bull terrier I named bellium saved my life short and sweet not ashamed to admit she keep me from killing my self 8 months ago I had to put bellium down she had an infection in her uteri us the size of a cantaloupe by the time I knew something was wrong with the best friend I have ever had in my life it was to later. The strength I say in that dog gave me the will and determination to live again. Things are looking better everyday but I can’t help but think that these dogs deserve much more positive credit than they get and I feel I owe it to bellium and my new, year old American pit bull Renee to teach the public what these dogs really are. Of course then again maybe we really live in a communist country and they know that they have to ban my dog so that they can round me up and shove me in a concentration camp because for as much as I do not want to see it happen I know with out a doubt if you come after my family my pit bull will fight for what she loves until the end!

  23. Debra Bradshaw

    Any Dog Will Bite if Provoked ..You Might as Well Ban all Dogs..Good Luck With That!! Stop Picking on Certain Breeds of Dogs..They are the Reflection of the owners!!!

  24. ok when i think the government cant come up with anymore outrageous ideas, they show me up…this is just rediculous…i am a pit owner and lover and I have never had one, in my 33 yrs, “turn” on me or any one i know personally…all of mine have been raised from pups in our household so they were never abused, which im sure is the reason…you cant blame a whole breed because of crappy owners of a few…every dog or animal has it in them to be vicious if treated poorly but it still is not the dog’s fault, its due to the upbringing…more ppl are bit by small ankle biters than pits but you dont see them on this list…idiots are the only ones who cant see this and I pray its not their loved animal’s breed on the chopping block next due to labeling and descrimination because of bad press

  25. http://www.change.org/petitions/withdraw-discriminatory-house-bill-hb621-and-senate-bill-sb865#

    We believe that House Bill HB621 and Senate Bill SB865, which labels any pit bull type dog in the state of Tennessee as vicious, must be withdrawn. Not only does it infringe on our rights as citizens of this state, but also is breed discrimination. It is clear that all animals are a product of their environment and are not born vicious.

    Not only does it infringe on our rights as citizens to have pets, it also will cost the state to implement and enforce. This is money that the state does not have, so it would trickle down to the taxpayers. So we would virtually be paying for our pets to be taken from us.

    We believe there are better ways to implement safety, which starts with harsher punishments against animal abusers instead of attacking responsible owners.

    We are respectfully asking that House Bill HB621 and Senate Bill SB865 be withdrawn and not carried to vote, as it would take innocent pets away from responsible owners and contribute to the misunderstanding and blind views of pit bull type dogs, which are just like any other dog.

  26. I emailed every single address listed. I pray they do the right thing.

  27. As a retired teacher and assistant principal I have seen the issues associated with discrimination and labeling of children as “behavior problems ” due to their race. I found it intolerable and narrow minded. While I understand children are not dogs, is this not the same issue? The students who were bullies in school and behavior problems in the classroom had nothing at all to do with their physical appearance but everything to do with how they were raised and the attention they received at home. Pit bulls are often called the nanny dog for their loving nature toward children. This discriminatory practice toward any living creature must end. Let’s write the bills for stronger laws against those who get perverse pleasure from watching otherwise loving pups maul each other to death as they’ve trained them to do.

  28. Please leave pit bulls alone. Go after the dog fighfers instead!These dogs are made to fight by the stupid human who have them. Who brought this bill up? Are things so slow that this takes the place of really important stuff?End this right now Vote No!!

  29. I cannot believe TN is even considering this. I have 3 Jack Russell’s a cat and a year old Pittie that is a bigger baby then my Jack Russell’s ever thought of being. If this were God Forbid pass I would not live in TN and I am sure many other pet owners feel the same way. We need to make the state realize how many residents they will lose which means revenue.This is very sad news to me

  30. i love my dog very much i look forward coming home to her since its just me her , i even have my neighbors who are in their late70’s calling me asking if i can bring her over there because she loves he. and the kids too. i hardly get any visitors but my queen gets kids coming over asking if she can come outside and play . i say no sometimes but their faces be sad so i’ll let her go out anyway. dog are like humans sometimes we can misjudge a person aswell.. its trial and error at times but no one is perfect ..everyone need a chance.

  31. my daughter has 4 pits and they are as gentle of a dog as you will ever find very loving on the other hand I have a teacup pom weights 6 lbs. that will eat your hand off, or come from under the chair and bit your leg. so when can I expect him to be on your hit list?

  32. Your trying to take away my 2nd Admendment, now you have the gall to tell me I can’t have my 3/4 Pit, your full of crap. My dog protects HIS FAMILY. Why are you so set on Pits? It used to be German Shepards, then Rotties. Quit be so hung up on Pitbulls. Its the person that trains the dogs, not the other way around. Your against ALL Pitbulls it seems. That sounds racist to me. You don’t see them as a individual animal. You probably couldn’t tell the difference between an illegal alien and a legal person whose whole family was born here generation after generation could you? There ALL illegal to you. Your doing the same with Pittbulls. Why don’t you spend our money were paying you and pick something worth while. Your BARKING up the wrong tree.

  33. Barbara A Jenkins

    It is not the breed its, its this ppl that want these pitties to be mean, they are not mean and vicious dogs. I visit my local shelter weekly to get pics to try and help them get out of the shelter. Me i would have a whole house of them. Look at other breeds small to big they will protect their home, please reconsider this bill. It s not the breed but the Greed of irresponsible owners,

  34. As the director/founder of Fighting For The Bullys Pit Bull Rescue In Knoxville, I am deeply concerned that we are once again faced with a proposal that would possibly ban the Pit Bull. I cannot for the life of me understand how hard it is to figure out it is NOT the dog causing the problems.Do you see ANY unfortunate accidents, attacks, maulings etc. from a responsible owner of a Pit Bull? No, and you won’t! These dogs are treated as members of our family. They are well cared for, and have manners. There is NO BAD BREED OF DOG! ANY BREED can be dangerous if in the wrong hands. Please realize that Pit Bulls are just DOGS. They are not monsters, they are not killing machines, they are just DOGS!! I hope you find a proposal for ANY type of breed specific legislation to be just as rediculous as I do. Please target the irresponsible owners of ALL BREEDS, not the dogs. It is THAT SIMPLE.

  35. My pit bull was rescued from a high killer shelter I work for. He was shoot 13 times with a bb gun, had been cut one leg with a razor blade, and then on the other leg previous owners aloud the open wound to get so heavy infected that he almost lost him leg. They also chained him up and beat him. They tried to use him as a bait dog and to fight for money. I adopted him into my family. He has been the best boy ever even loves my 4 lb yorkie and our cat. Loves my 9 month old nd nephew. His owner’s walked with 6 months probation. Seriously instead of trying to ban the breed make the fucking laws tougher to where these sorry SOB do jail time and never be able to have another dog period. It is not the breed its the ignorant a**holes that try to mistreat this breed for their on entertainment. So let me suggest instead of punishing the breed. Make the laws tougher on animal neglect and start making the irresponsible owners pay.

  36. frank eckstein

    How narrow minded some people are, and our polical leaders should be ashamed to even entertain such ideas. Are these the people who represent me and my ideas. NO THEIR NOT AND NO THEY DON”T Wake up or get out of office !!!

  37. I agree to all other posts…and my 4 lb chihuahua will try to bite anyone who comes into my house if I don’t stop him. Are you going to ban chihuahuas next?

  38. Nina is a temperament testing dog for my rescue, Pit Happens rescue. She is also an American Pit Bull Terrier. Many of my rescued Pit Bulls now work with autistic and special needs children. Two of them have saved lives in their new homes. I have trained the dog known as the “nanny dog” since 1983. In all my years of working with behavioral issues I have been attacked by three dogs, they were all Labs. Please let me know what I am my volunteers can do to stop legislation that punishes dogs and LEGAL owners for human behavior. Tania Zuback, President and Founder of Pit Happens rescue, Chattanooga TN

  39. The Pitbull,formally known as the nanny dog.They love children and their families.You must look at who is holding the leash! The Pitbull is my favoite dog.The most loving, smiling, couch potatoes ever.The facts were listed in the previous replys.I will not give my love up!

  40. You work for the people that elected you,. How many “pit bulls” have you met? I would like to introduce you to Stanley, rescued from a shelter, heartworm positive. He is now officially an AKC “Canine Good Citizen”. Feel free to contact me .jolita nemeth

  41. They punish these breed because they are bred to be loyal, loving, caring. Pit bulls have many good thing on their side but everyone for get the good and they only think about the bad…. So here some good about the breed: they are known as the nanny dog since they are great with kids. One of America first war dog was a pit bull. They are known to be one of the most loyal dog breed. They are also one of the sweetest dog

    • It is completely sad and ridiculous to punish the breed and those of us who are truly in love with the breed and treat them as a real member of the family, because sick and heartless people use their strength to fight and make money for them because they do not want to get a job. I have owned many “Pit bulls” all of which have been very loyal to me and my children, sweet and nothing more then big lap dogs. They are gentle giants. More Chihuahuas have bitten more people around here then this breed. I refuse to give up my RIGHT to own my dogs simply because sick human beings MISTREAT and TRAIN THEM to fight. Seems to me that this is backwards. Should you not ban or “regulate ownership” of these disgusting human beings? I will not give up my family member, would you?

  42. These bills are asinine! Don’t punish the breed because they’re the favored dog for illegal dog fights! Anyone who’s EVER been around a properly raised pit bull know they’re clowns and very loving dogs. Yes they can attack but ALL dogs do, it’s called personal thresh hold being violated, we have it too. What happens when we have someone all up in our face? We give warnings and when they’re not heeded we do what? We REACT, what makes us any better than any dog who does the same thing? NOTHING!!!! Don’t forget that dogs that were selected to be discriminated against are now the most popular breeds used in the K-9 unit of ALL police agencies and the military INCLUDING pit bulls. NO dog is born inherently vicious, they’re made that way by people who are too damn lazy to get honest jobs and pay their share of taxes!

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