IMPORTANT LAWS FOR TENNESSEE VETERINARIANS

 

Statute Name Citation                                    Summary

 Cruelty - Consolidated Cruelty Statutes

                                             

 TN ST § 39-14-201 - 212   These Tennessee anti-cruelty provisions define "animal" as a domesticated living creature or a wild creature previously captured.  A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals (a Class A misdemeanor)  if he or she intentionally or knowingly tortures, maims or grossly overworks an animal; fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter for an animal in the person's custody; abandons unreasonably an animal in the person's custody; transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner; or inflicts burns, cuts, lacerations, or other injuries or pain.  Animal fighting is also prohibited under this section, with dog fighting incurring a felony penalty and cockfighting resulting in a misdemeanor in most cases.  A person commits aggravated cruelty (a Class E felony) to animals when, with aggravated cruelty and with no justifiable purpose, he or she intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal.  Exclusions include animal farming, research, veterinary practices, hunting, trapping, "dispatching" rabid animals or wild animals on one's property, among other things.
 Dangerous - Death or serious injury; destruction of dogs  TN ST § 44-17-120     This Tennessee statute provides that any dog which attacks a human and causes death or serious injury may be destroyed upon the order of the circuit court where the attack occurred.  The owner shall be given notice that if he or she does not appear before the court within five days and show cause why the dog should not be destroyed, then the order shall issue and the dog shall be destroyed.  This statute also allows certain counties to make ordinances to petition a general sessions court to provide for the disposition of dangerous dogs and/or dogs causing death or serious injury to humans or other animals.
 Dog - Assistance Animal/Guide Dog Laws  TN ST § 44-17-404; TN § 39-14-208     The following statutes comprise the state's relevant assistance animal and guide dog laws.
 Dog - Consolidated Dog Laws   TN ST §§ 44-8-408 - 412; §§ 44-17-101 - 505; TN ST § 70-4-118; TN ST § 70-5-101   These Tennessee statutes comprise the state's dog laws.  Among the provisions include licensing requirements for companion animal dealers, laws concerning damage done by dogs, and the Tennessee Spay/Neuter Law.
 Endangered Species - Nongame and Endangered or Threatened Wildlife Species Conservation Act of 1974   Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 70-8-101-112 (1974)     These Tennessee statutes comprise the Tennessee Nongame and Endangered or Threatened Wildlife Species Conservation Act of 1974 and includes the legislative intent, definitions, and factors relevant to endangered species investigations.  By statute, it is unlawful for any person to take, attempt to take, possess, transport, export, process, sell or offer for sale or ship nongame wildlife, or for any common or contract carrier knowingly to transport or receive for shipment nongame wildlife.  Violation constitutes a Class B misdemeanor and incurs warrantless searches and seizure of the wildlife taken and the instrumentalities used in the taking.
 Equine Activity Liability Act   TN ST § 44-20-101 - 105     This act stipulates that an equine sponsor or equine professional, or any other person, including corporations and partnerships, are immune from liability for the death or injury of a participant, which resulted from the inherent risks of equine activities.  However, there are exceptions to this rule:  a person, corporation, or partnership will be held liable for injuries of an equine activity participant if he or she displays a willful and wanton or intentional disregard for the safety of the participant and if he or she fails to make reasonable and prudent efforts in ensuring the safety of the participant.  In addition, a person will be held liable for the injury of an equine activity participant if he or she is injured on the land or at a facility due to a dangerous latent condition of which was known to the equine sponsor, professional or other person.
 Expert - Burden of proof; expert   TN ST § 29-26-115      This Tennessee statute provides the requirements for the claimant’s burden of proof under malpractice actions, including, inter alia, the proof that the defendant’s actions fell below the recognized standard of acceptable professional practice in the community, proximate cause, and proof by a preponderance of the evidence that defendant’s actions were negligent.
 Impound - Rabies. § 68-8-109. Observation; confinement or quarantine.   TN ST § 68-8-109      This Tennessee statute provides that if any animal has bitten any person, is suspected of having bitten any person or is for any reason suspected of being infected with rabies, the animal may be required to be placed under an observation period either by confinement or by quarantine for a period of time deemed necessary by the commissioner or rules of the department. 
 Liability - Liability for death of pet; damages; exemptions   TN ST § 44-17-403      This Tennessee statute provides that a pet owner may seek non-economic damages up to $5,000 for the death of his or her pet against the person who is liable for causing the death or injuries that led to the animal's death.  The person causing the pet's death must have done so intentionally or, if negligently,  the incident must have occurred either on the owner or pet caretaker's property or while in the control and supervision of the caretaker.  These damages are not for the intentional infliction of emotional distress of the owner or other civil claim, but rather for the direct loss of "reasonably expected society, companionship, love and affection of the pet." 
 Licenses - Seizure; adoption; destruction   TN ST § 68-8-107      This Tennessee statute mandates that any dog found running at large may be seized by any peace officer and placed in an animal shelter in counties or cities where an animal shelter or pound is available. If the dog or cat is wearing a rabies vaccination tag or other identification, all reasonable effort shall be made to locate and notify the owners who shall be required to appear within five (5) days and redeem the animal by paying a pound fee as set by the city or county legislative body.
 Liens - Veterinarian Liens   TN ST § 63-12-134       This statute specifically allow vets to hold an animal until a bill is paid for treatment, board or care of an animal.
 Ordinances - Dogs and cats; licenses, shelters and other animal control facilities  TN ST § 5-1-120       This Tennessee statute outlines the broad police power counties have with respect to dog and cats.  It provides that counties, by resolution of their respective legislative bodies, may license and regulate dogs and cats, establish and operate shelters and other animal control facilities, and regulate, capture, impound and dispose of stray dogs, stray cats and other stray animals.
 Ordinances - Germantown and Memphis Animal Control Ordinances  Germantown - Secs. 5-1 - 41; Memphis - Secs. 5-1 - 82       These ordinances comprise the cities of Germantown and Memphis, Tennessee's animal control provisions. 
 Ordinances - Use of electronic locating collars on dogs    TN ST § 44-17-401       This Tennessee statute provides that no agency or entity of state or local government shall enact, adopt, promulgate, or enforce any law, ordinance, rule, regulation, or other policy which restricts or prevents the owner of any dog from using an electronic locating collar to protect such dog from loss.
 Rabies - Chapter 8. Rabies. § 68-8-108. Transportation.    TN ST § 68-8-108  

    This Tennessee statute provides that this chapter shall not prohibit the transportation of dogs or cats in the state; provided, that the dogs or cats are securely confined or kept on a leash while being transported in the state.

 Trusts -Trust for care of animal  TN ST § 35-15-408       This Tennessee trust law, amended in 2004, provides that a trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor's lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one (1) animal alive during the settlor's lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal. The trust may not be enforced for more than twenty-one (21) years.

This information furnished by Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University College of Law.

 

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