How YOU can help stop HB621 (Tennessee)

A meeting organized by Middle Tennessee Pet Resource Center was held today to help citizens better understand and get active in opposing House Bill 621. Bless the Bullys, as well as members of Nashville PITTIE, Animal Rescue Corp, TN Humane PAC, and Concerned Citizens for Reform at MACC participated in the Q&A information session. The main objective was to help everyone get on the same page with respect to the original bill and the proposed amendment. We had a good turnout, and several media outlets attended, as well.

In addition, former House Representative Janis Sontany attended and addressed concerned dog owners on the bill and the legislative process. Janis, who after many years of service to our great state, decided not to run in the last election. She was, without a doubt, one of the most animal friendly legislators, and we miss her incredible presence in the House – but she’s still fighting bad laws right along with the rest of us.

As most of you aware, the proposed amendment to HB621 would label all pit bull type dogs as “vicious” and require owners to obtain liability insurance. This would have a significant impact on dog owners, and would cause many families to have to choose between their homes and their family companions. We, of course, oppose breed specific legislation in any form as it has been proven to be ineffective and does not enhance the welfare of or promote safer communities.

However, HB621 as originally filed is a poorly drafted bill that was already being opposed by the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and the Tennessee Federation of Dog Clubs. The language of the bill identifies as “dangerous,” any dog with the “physical nature” capable of causing serious bodily injury or harm, thus requiring owners of such dogs to obtain liability insurance. The use of the term “physical nature” can refer to any large breed dog, and specifically dogs over fifty pounds. The bill as written, even without the breed specific amendment, has the potential to impact thousands of families and force them to choose between their homes and their dogs. HB621 also sets forth requirements that may actually infringe upon the animal cruelty codes.

In short, its a bad bill all around, and its a bill that should be opposed in its entirety.

In preparation of the Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, March 20, we are asking that Tennessee residents:

1. Call Representative Gilmore’s office to let her know that you vote, and you do not support HB621 in any form.

2. Continue to reach out to the members of the Subcommittee and ask them to oppose HB621 as originally filed, as well as any amendments thereto.

3. If you are planning, or are attending, a rally prior to the hearing on Wednesday, please make sure the rally’s theme is breed-neutral and focuses on all the flaws of this misguided bill.

4. Please continue to reach out to the legislators in your respective districts. They are your voice. Let them know you oppose HB621.

Talking Points for Letters:

1. You are extremely concerned about Representative Gilmore’s bill as any large breed dog possesses the “physical nature” to harm or inflict pain on a person, and countless families will be affected by this bill.

2. HB621 is completely unnecessary because the state of Tennessee and local municipalities already have laws in place that address vicious dogs and their irresponsible owners. There is no reason to enact a law that singles out dogs of a certain size or breed and punish their responsible owners.

3. HB621 would have a tremendous impact on animal control across the state. Families forced to choose between their homes and their dogs means more dogs would be surrendered to animal shelters, and more dogs would be abandoned in the numerous counties that do not have animal control (and there are many). The consequences of this bill would put an extreme burden on citizens, as well as precious animal control resources.

The bottom line is, you can’t legislate personal accountability, but you can certainly penalize and hold accountable the dog owners who don’t take their responsibility seriously.  The State of Tennessee already has the means and the ability to do this without enacting a law that would hurt responsible dog owners.

Please share this alert with your friends, relatives and co-workers. This bill has the potential and will impact the life of someone they know, and we need as many people as possible to oppose HB621.

Representative Brenda Gilmore
Phone (615) 741-1997l

House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources
(Block copy and paste e-mail for committee members),,,,,,,

Tennessee residents can find their legislators here.

Many thanks to Tam Singer for organizing today’s meeting, and for the excellent job done explaining the bill, its flaws, and the process.  And a very big thank you to everyone who attended today’s meeting in order to work together and fight HB621.

Previous alerts for HB621


13 responses to “How YOU can help stop HB621 (Tennessee)

  1. The bottom line here (as stated by many) is TO MUCH REGULATION in AMERICA!!!!! You might want to remind them when writing, that we can see how they vote on this issue and vote accordingly in the next election. These people are supposed to REPRESENT us, not REGULATE us to death! Shameful!! We are not incompetent! Leave our dogs alone!!

  2. Paul Hawkwind Wyrick

    Maybe if someone helped then draft a bill that addresses the problems of at large dogs,tethered dogs,spay/neutered dogs,it would work in our favor and put the responsibility on the people who really do not care about the ‘family’ and just use them as ‘status symbols’.

  3. Has the US gone insane! This will not only hurt families,it will cause a rise in death toll of pit breeds. What’s going on America,they want to take away guns to protect citizens from violent crimes,and dogs that we would hope and pray would protect us if the need should come about. Dogs bite to protect,it’s a natural instinct,if threatened. Next cats will be killed for scratching! This is Ignorance at it’s Best…Fools! PS.for the ignorant people out there pit bulls are loyal and loving.

  4. Please do not pass bill HB621. If this is mandatory, I’m afraid I can’t afford it. I’m a widow and I have a dog I love. Please don’t ask me to give up my dog. I can barely afford her now.

  5. Iam against this bill and will not support it in any way. Please be aware it is the owners of the dog, not the breed that is at fault.

  6. Have sent letters to all that was suggested. Hope it helps!

  7. Kandi Foxworth

    I oppose this law because if you are a responsible dog owner no bites would happen whether it be a poodle, german sheperd, or pit bull. It is not any dogs fault it is the people they should individually be addressed instead of addressing all dogs. I own a pit bull that is a big baby but as a responsible dog owner she is fixed, has all shots, and is on a leash at all times.Thank you very much.

  8. Pingback: News Briefs… March 18th 2013 | The Jackson Press

  9. The most frightening part of the bill is not the insurance requirement which I read to have been deleted by the amendment. The containment requirement forces a “vicious dog”, including a generic pit bull type to be enclosed in locked fencing with a top while in your own yard.

    People should also be outraged of Rep. Gilmore’s public statement that the proposed bill was not breed discriminatory. Apparently she doesn’t read her own stuff.

    The final challenge in all of this is to ask WHY this bill is necessary. Gilmore stated that it was to address leash-less dogs in HER neighborhood. Yet, she’s proposing a statewide change that ignores leash requirements already in existence. We can’t simply keep making up new laws just because the current ones aren’t working. A deeper discussion, thoughtfulness and analysis should be made each and every time.

  10. The gov. is sticking it s nose in so many places where it dont belong… this is another example… why dont u all work on what needs doing? Like cutting spending, lowering taxes, strengthing the military, taking proper care of our vets,getting businesses back in our country for jobs, etc… leave the guns, the dogs and our food choices alone. These are our personal rights and choices.

  11. This is so undamnbelievable I almost don’t know how to respond except to ask a rather simple question, at what weight do you deem humans to be vicious? I mean first it’s if they look like a certain breed, they don’t necessarily need to be that breed just resemble it. So just because a dog weighs 50 plus lbs this is the measuring stick to guide irrational thinking person that all the dogs in the neighbor hoods are vicious with this type of law? Have you folks actually thought about extended unintended consequences?

  12. Paul Hawkwind Wyrick

    The way this bill is drafted,very poorly, I might add,means that all my dogs could be deemed dangerous just because they are over 50lbs.

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