Saturday, April 11, 2009
Animal Forfeiture Bill, HB 0626, will be heard Tuesday, April 14, before the House Calendar and Rules Committee Bill Summary: In animal cruelty prosecutions, if a defendant is ordered to post court security to pay for expenses of caring for the animal, s/he currently has 15 business days to come up with the money. If s/he can't do that the ownership rights are lost. This bill will change the time limit to 72 hours, which is very little time considering that the person will also need to find money for an attorney and bail, and the amount of money required for the security is likely to be considerable.
The bill will also remove the following wording: " However, if the person from whom the animal was seized is not the owner of the animal and the person has not posted the court-ordered security within fifteen (15) days, the court shall order the governmental animal control agency or the humane society to make all reasonable efforts to determine who the owner of the animal is and to notify the owner of the pending proceeding. No animal shall be deemed to have been abandoned and forfeited to the governmental animal control agency or humane society until reasonable attempts to determine and notify the owner have been made."
This wording gives rightful owners an opportunity to reclaim pets that have been stolen or otherwise ended up in the hands of an (alleged) animal abuser.
The take home message here is that both of the above-mentioned changes will make it easier or more likely for an innocent person to lose his/her animals. They also could result in overzealous prosecution and/or abuse of process. More information concerning the problems with asset forfeiture programs can be found here: http://www.fear.org// .
Innocent people DO get accused of animal abuse, and, unless they are wealthy, they will almost certainly lose their animals and go bankrupt while defending themselves. As our legal system is based on "innocent until proven guilty," it would be better to have the person reimburse the costs if and only if found guilty.
HOUSE CALENDAR AND RULES COMMITTEE MEMBERS: (please contact each member and ask them to OPPOSE this bill. The phone/fax numbers are for their Nashville offices)
Chair: Rep. Bill Dunn
R-Knoxville, District 16 - Part of Knox Cty: Phone (615) 741-1721 Fax (615) 253-0276
Vice-Chair: Rep. Larry Turner
D-Memphis District 85 - Part of Shelby Cty: Phone (615) 741-6954 Fax (615) 741-3144
Secretary: Rep. Matthew Hill
R-Jonesborough District 7 - Part of Washington Cty: Phone: 615-741-2251 firstname.lastname@example.org
Members: Rep. Joe Armstrong Phone (615) 741-0768 Fax (615) 253-0316
email@example.com ; Rep. Stratton Bone JR D-Lebanon District 46 - Cannon, Trousdale and part of Wilson Cties: Phone (615) 741-7086 Fax (615) 741-2405 firstname.lastname@example.org ;Rep. Harry Brooks R-Knoxville District 19 - Part of Knox Cty: Phone (615) 741-6879 Fax (615) 253-0212
email@example.com ; Rep. Glen Casada R-Franklin District 63 - Part of Williamson Cty: Phone (615) 741-4389 firstname.lastname@example.org ;Rep. Kent Coleman D-Murfreesboro District 49 - Part of Rutherford Cty: Phone (615) 741-6829 Fax (615) 253-0332 email@example.com ; Rep. John J. Deberry JR. D-Memphis District 90 - Part of Shelby Cty: Phone (615) 741-2239 Fax (615) 253-0294
firstname.lastname@example.org ;Rep. Lois DeBerry D-Memphis District 91 - Part of Shelby Cty: Phone (615) 741-3830 Fax (615) 741-3992 email@example.com ; Rep. Craig Fitzhugh D-Ripley
District 82 - Lauderdale, Crockett and part of Dyer Cties: Phone (615) 741-2134 Fax (615) 741-1446
firstname.lastname@example.org ; Rep. Bill Harmon D-Dunlap District 37 - Sequatchie, Van Buren, Grundy and Marion Cties: Phone (615) 741-6849 Fax (615) 253-0264 email@example.com ; Rep. Beth Harwell R-Nashville District 56 - Part of Davidson Cty: Phone (615) 741-0709 Fax (615) 741-4917
firstname.lastname@example.org ; Rep. Susan M. Lynn R-Mt. Juliet District 57 - Part of Sumner and Wilson Cties: Phone (615) 741-7462 Fax (615) 253-0353 email@example.com ; Rep. Judd Matheny
R-Tullahoma District 47 - Coffee and part of Warren Cties: Phone (615) 741-7448 Fax (615) 253-0226
firstname.lastname@example.org ; Rep. Joe McCord R-Maryville District 8 - Parts of Blount and Sevier Cties: Phone (615) 741-5481 Fax (615) 253-0220 email@example.com ; Rep. Gerald
McCormick R-Chattanooga District 26 - Part of Hamilton Cty: Phone (615) 741-2548 Fax (615) 253-0305 firstname.lastname@example.org ; Rep. Steve McManus R-Cordova District 96 - Part of Shelby Cty: Phone (615) 741-1920 Fax (615) 253-0232 email@example.com ; Rep. Gary W. Moore, SR D-Joelton District 50 - Part of Davidson Cty: Phone (615) 741-4317 Fax (615) 253-0360
firstname.lastname@example.org ; Rep. Jason E. Mumpower R-Bristol District 3 - Johnson and part of Sullivan Cties: Phone (615) 741-2050 Fax (615) 253-0298 email@example.com ; Rep. Gary Odom D-Nashville District 55 - Part of Davidson Cty: Phone (615) 741-4410 Fax (615) 741-7528
firstname.lastname@example.org ; Rep. Curry Todd R-Collierville District 95 - Part of Shelby Cty: Phone (615) 741-1866 Fax (615) 532-8221 email@example.com ; Rep. Joe Towns, JR D-Memphis
District 84 - Parts of Shelby Cty: Phone (615) 741-2189 Fax (615) 253-0201 firstname.lastname@example.org ; Rep. Mike Turner D-Old Hickory District 51 - Part of Davidson Cty: Phone (615) 741-3229 Fax (615) 741-4322 email@example.com ; Speaker Kent Williams Carter Cty Republican-Elizabethton District 4 - Carter Cty: Phone (615) 741-7450 Fax (615) 253-0310
Commercial Breeder Act [HB0368]: House Judiciary (full committee) on the 15th.
Commercial Breeder Act [SB0258]: Senate Commerce, Labor, and Agriculture Committee on the 15th.
PLEASE CALL/FAX/ or EMAIL BOTH of these committees and ask them to OPPOSE this bill (both identical versions)
The National Animal Interest Alliance has set up the CapWiz on their website. This will work for Tennessee residents ONLY...IT IS SUPER SIMPLE! Click and send and your message will be sent to ALL of the committee members!!! If you would rather fax, you may still use the NAIA site. When your letter is complete, just print and fax!
House Judiciary Committee (FULL committee) (click for complete info on each member!)
Senate Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee (click for complete info on each member!)
In some significant ways, these bills resemble HSUS supported anti-breeder legislation that has shown up in several other states so far this year.
The Tennessee Commercial Breeder Act:
* Applies to dogs and cats.
* Defines a commercial breeder as anyone who possesses or maintains 20 or more adult female dogs for the purpose of the sale of their offspring as companion animals”.
* Limits the number of dogs/cats a commercial breeder can maintain to 75 unsterilized “companion animals” over the age of 6 months.NOTE: (In the current amended version, the 75 cap has been removed...as of 4/12/09)
* Requires annual licensing of commercial breeders and sets up a fee structure of $500 per year for those owning 20-40 adult companion animals, and $1000 per year for those owning 41-75.
* Empowers the Commissioner of Agriculture to grant licenses, oversee compliance with standards, rules and regulations, and suspend licenses for non-compliance or cruelty. Breeder will be given a 10-day
written notice of suspensions and may be granted a hearing to contest. Violations would constitute a Class B misdemeanor punishable by fine only.
* Licenses will only be granted to applicants of “good moral character” after a criminal background check and inspection of the premises. (NOTE: In the current amended version, the wording "good moral character" has been removed)
* Allows commercial breeder premises and records to be inspected at all reasonable times by the Commissioner, a representative of the Commissioner, or a legally constituted law enforcement agency.
* Requires commercial breeders to file semi-annual reports on the number of dogs/cats in their possession, the number of dogs/cats sold including the names and addresses of who purchased them, and the number of dogs/cats received by the breeder that were not purchased including the names and addresses of who they obtained them from.
* Grants the Commissioner authority to confiscate animals for failure to license and hand them over to local or federal animal welfare agencies or humane organization, like ASPCA or HSUS, and order the breeder to pay a security bond that could be transferred to the agency/organization for the cost of care.
* Subjects violators to a fine of $1000 per animal sold, offered or advertised without a license.
This Act reads as though its main preoccupation is to introduce a complex layer of state regulation that will generate revenue through licenses and fines, not directly improve actual care and conditions for animals.
Many of the definitions provided are unclear and inconsistent and consequently make hobby breeders, trainers, handlers, hunt clubs, boarding kennels and private rescue networks vulnerable to commercial requirements.
We oppose number limits because they are arbitrary, unscientific and have been found to be unenforceable and vulnerable to court challenges. Furthermore, they have never been successful in addressing irresponsible breeding or negligent rescue operations. Limits and caps drive pet owners and breeders underground where they are harder to oversee and prevent abuse.
We believe there are more effective solutions available to help eliminate substandard kennels, from greater enforcement of existing anti-cruelty and nuisance laws to educating consumers about how to seek out responsible and humane sources of healthy pets.
Politely explain that this legislation misses the mark. Offer your expertise as a Tennessee resident with hands-on animal experience who they can rely on instead of an out of state organization for their information about pet issues.
Please call, fax or email the representatives and senators that will be hearing ALL of these important issues! Government officials work FOR the people...Politely let them know you OPPOSE these 3 bills !!!!