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