BSL in Tennessee
While Bless the Bullys fights BSL wherever it is proposed because we are based in Tennessee, we naturally have a little more insight into what goes on in our home state. A review of various breed-specific ordinances in Tennessee reveals that pit bull owners are not the only ones who should be concerned about BSL. Why? Because the great majority of these ordinances are worded such that they apply to ANY DOG that has the physical appearance and characteristics of being a "pit bull." This means several breeds - not only "pit bulls" - can and will be affected by these ordinances depending on the subjective judgment of the individual making the breed identification.
The below list should reinforce the need to always educate and promote responsible ownership. Breed-specific legislation in Tennessee is not an isolated occurrence, and responsible dog owners must be proactive in curbing the passage and spread of legislation based on ignorance, fear, and hype.
Red Boiling Springs
It's important to note that most cities in Tennessee with breed-specific ordinances use an ordinance provided by MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service), a branch of the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service. Of particular importance is a legal opinion issued by Sidney Hemsley, Senior Law Consultant with MTAS on July 29, 1996. The relevant portion of that opinion is below:
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Your question is, does MTAS have samples of vicious dog ordinances the city can use to fashion an ordinance to regulate dangerous dogs in the city? The answer is yes.
There are two general kinds of dangerous dog ordinances: breed-specific (such as pit bulls), and vicious dogs (which cover any and all breeds). In my view, the vicious dog ordinance is the best approach for a couple of reasons:
1. If someone is injured by a dog not covered by the breed-specific ordinance, the ordinance does not apply.
2. The vicious dog ordinance avoids complicated and "expert" arguments over what precisely is a pit bull or other breed, and whether the dog in question was a pit bull or other breed.
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The city's best approach to vicious dogs is to pass a vicious dog ordinance that makes violators subject to a heavy civil penalty, and in the event that dog attacks a human being and causes death or serious injury, to request the Attorney General to file a petition under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 44-17-120.
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This opinion is noteworthy because while MTAS may have drafted an ordinance that regulates the ownership of specific breeds of dogs, in the interest of public safety, they advise against Tennessee municipalities using it. We certainly agree that a breed-neutral vicious dog ordinance offers the best protection to the entire community - citizens and animals alike.
Bless the Bullys encourages all Tennessee citizens to be the voice of reason for dogs and their responsible owners. Please fight for all the dogs who have lost their lives due to ignorance and fear. We have to be their voice... we have to fight for them!