I spoke directly with House Representative Brenda Gilmore yesterday, and I was pleased to learn that she has pulled from today’s Subcommittee agenda, a bill that had many dog owners across the state of Tennessee very concerned, and rightfully so.
House Bill 621, as originally filed, was a poorly drafted bill that identified 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.
Making matters worse, we learned last week that an amendment to HB621 had been filed that would label all pit bull type dogs as “vicious” and require owners to obtain liability insurance. This bill, with or without the amendment, would have had a significant impact on dog owners, and would cause many families to have to choose between their homes and their family companions.
That’s where YOU came in.
Bless the Bullys put out the call to action last Wednesday, and immediately, you went to work writing letters, making phone calls, and reaching out to fellow citizens to assist and guide on how to fight the misguided bill. The representatives were inundated with phone calls and e-mails asking them to oppose HB621, and the media exposure hit the nail right on the head!
Have no doubt, this bill was pulled because dog owners in the “volunteer state” came together for the cause, and that is certainly a victory for us all.
Tennessee legislators are attempting to end this year’s session in April (earlier than usual), and pulling the bill from today’s agenda basically seals the fate of Representative Gilmore’s bill…this year. She has stated, however, that she plans to bring “a bill” back next session, so we strongly encourage reaching out to her and opening the lines of communication in an effort to work on issues that are of a concern to her district. Hopefully that can be achieved by stronger enforcement of the current laws, but if she feels the need for something stronger is still there next year, those open lines will ensure a strong, fair and enforceable bill that will benefit the entire community.
With respect to SB865, we have received assurances from the Judiciary Committee Chair, Brian Kelsey, that he has no intention of moving on the bill. Even without that assurance, though, if the House bill stalls, the Senate bill cannot move forward. Both bills are necessary in order to become to a new state law.
Many, many thanks to our friends at the ASPCA, HSUS, BFAS and TFDC for the continual updates so that I could keep you updated!
While we’re riding on the momentum of knowing dog owners in Tennessee as a whole won’t be subject to a discriminatory law, I would ask that you make your voice heard on a local issue that is threatening owners of several breeds of dogs. The town of Hornbeak, Tennessee is considering an ordinance that would target “pit bulls,” rottweilers, dobermans, German shepherds, chows and akitas. The ordinance has already passed the first reading, and only two readings are required to become law. Please reach out to the Hornbeak city officials and ask them to pursue a breed-neutral ordinance that targets reckless and irresponsible dog owners as opposed to dogs with the appearance of certain breeds. Contact and additional information can be found at this link:
THANK YOU for being a voice for responsible dog owners across the state of Tennessee and across the country!