BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – A bill that aims to protect animals in Tennessee from owners with animal cruelty charges has passed its first hurdle in the Tennessee General Assembly.
For some activists, it’s been a cause for celebration.
“We are talking serious crimes where an animal could die and probably has, and if you are convicted of that you should not be allowed to own an animal,” said Tammy Davis, the director of the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter. ”I think this is a great step forward for Tennessee if we can make this happen.”
Tennessee was the first state to adopt an animal abuse registry, which involved putting offenders on that list for two years.
However, many activists felt something was missing in addition to the registry.
“The bill did not state that you could also no longer own a companion animal for those two years,” Davis said. “So what this new bill does is says if you are convicted of aggravated animal cruelty, your right to own a companion animal for a minimum of two years will be taken away.”
The bill just passed in the Tennessee Senate on Monday.
Senator Jon Lundberg of Bristol sponsored the bill, SB1747. It was first introduced on January 21 and passed the Senate as amended on February 24.
“There’s no reason for anyone who has been convicted of felony animal abuse to own a domesticated animal, dog or cat,” Senator Lundberg said.
“Without this, someone could get convicted of aggravated animal cruelty here in my county, go down the street and adopt five more dogs or five more cats. They’ll be placed back in that home with someone who will not take care of them and probably harm them again,” Davis said.
Tammy Davis says more animal cruelty happens than people realize, and she hopes that will change with stricter laws.
In specific cases, the judge has the authority to make that ban longer, including up to a lifetime.
As for the second part of the bill, if you are convicted a second time on animal cruelty, you are banned for life from having a pet.
The bill now moves forward for a vote in the Tennessee House.
You can read SB1747 in its entirety below: