TN bill could take bite out of vicious dogs - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

TN bill could take bite out of vicious dogs

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Tennessee House Bill 621 could require owners of dangerous or vicious dog breeds to have an insurance policy of at least $25,000 for liabilities against any injuries done by your dog.

The bill says the owner must obtain the insurance policy within 60 days of discovering the dog is dangerous or vicious.

The bill also singles out the pit bull breed saying that any animal that belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog will be considered vicious.

READ: Tennessee House Bill 621

But some have a problem with the labels and lack of provisions for enforcement and labeling dog breeds as dangerous or vicious won't help protect anyone.

"They are vicious when they do protect, but by nature they are sweet," said pit bull owner Kimberly Ward, who rescued Nino, a stray, 10 years ago, and now it returns the favor.

"I have no kids, no husband," Ward said. "I'm single, by myself so my dogs are there to protect me. That's exactly what they do."

Pit bull owners argue the breed is being singled out, which is not fair. Some Tennessee legislators want dog owners like Ward to pay a steeper price - a $25,000 insurance liability policy.

"Should be a liability, but $25,000 for each dog? That's ridiculous!," she said. "I don't think they should go that high. Maybe $2,000 a dog."
Under the bill dogs which bite, attack or endanger someone or other animals without being provoked are considered dangerous. Your dog could also get stuck with the label of dangerous or vicious due to its size and capability of causing serious bodily injury.      

"I just feel actually it is a good thing," said Zachary Morrow,

"Couple months ago my dog was killed by pit bulls," said Dwain Harrison. "Should be some kind of law to protect homeowners."

The current bill (, though, does not specify pit bulls said Heather Long, a pit bull advocate and licensed veterinarian technician. She said that's their target. The hefty price tag could "rub responsible pet owners the wrong way, while neglectful owners continue their old methods."

"People that breed them and leave them chained in the backyard, they neglect them, they don't socialize them, they don't know how to raise dogs," she added. "They're the one that aren't going to have to pay it. Be nice if they did, because their dogs are going to bite."

Calls and e-mails to State Sen. Reginald Tate (D-Memphis) and State Rep. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville), who both sponsored the bill, were not returned to FOX13 News.

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