Monday, October 26, 2015

Tennessee State Law On Ownership Of Pit Bull Dogs

Pit bulls aren't allowed in some Tennessee cities.

Many states are beginning to enact breed-specific laws, or BSLs. These laws prohibit the ownership of certain breeds of dogs, usually powerful dogs with a tarnished image such as the pit bull. While Tennessee is leaving it largely up to the individual cities and counties as to whether or not there will be laws prohibiting the ownership of pit bulls, some have already jumped on the bandwagon with others looking to join.

Cities Banning and Restricting Ownership

There are a number of cities in Tennessee where it is illegal to own a pit bull; in other cities, there are strict regulations put on anyone owning the breed. Dyer, Estill Springs, Somerville, South Pittsburg, Selmer, Halls, Sparta and White County have all made it a crime to own a pit bull. The law in Selmer applies to all pit bulls that were already living in the area at the time the law was passed, while dogs in Sparta have been grandfathered in. Dogs living in Halls and Brownsville are subject to severe restrictions, and Fayetteville requires the presence of a fenced-in yard and muzzles, while owners must carry insurance policies should the dog bite, if owners choose to get a pit bull.

Attempts at Statewide Laws

Tennessee has, in the past, attempted to make owning dogs that are part bulldog illegal.

The state has attempted to pass a state-wide ban on pit bulls, such as the attempt at legislation started by Senator Tommy Kilby in 2008. The passing of this law would not only have made ownership of pit bulls illegal, but also would make it illegal to own dogs whose bloodlines include more than 50 percent of several different breeds, including the American bulldog and the American Staffordshire Terrier. DNA testing makes it possible to determine the breed makeup of any mixed breed dog. Those found guilty of owning such a dog would be forced to surrender it.

Bans Overturned

Some areas have previously had bans and restrictions on pit bull ownership in effect, but work from pit bull advocates and animal rights groups have succeeded in getting these bans overturned. Woodbury, Monterey, Hohenwald, Shelbyville and the counties of Putnam, Knox, Bedford and Sumner have had their pit bull breed specific laws overturned and it is once again legal to own these dogs in these areas, unless a specific city ordinance bans the dogs.

What To Do

Check your local legislation before getting a dog.

Several groups in Tennessee are working to make sure that laws like this don't get on the books, and are also trying to get those that have been passed to be overturned. Bless the Bully's is a rescue organization in central Tennessee that has joined forces with the Responsible Animal Owners of Tennessee in an attempt to raise awareness of the misrepresentation of pit bulls, and to help make it possible for these dogs to have the lives afforded to breeds whose reputation has not been so tarnished. Pit bull legislation is always in fluctuation with new laws being added and overturned all the time, so checking in your area to see if there are any breed restrictions in place is a must before bringing home any pit bull-like dog.

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