Tennessee Animal Abuse laws

 

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Updated 11/22/09  Complete and unabridged laws applying to animals in Tennessee

39-14-201. Definitions for animal offenses.

As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

     (1)  “Animal” means a domesticated living creature or a wild creature previously captured;

     (2)  “Livestock” means all equine as well as animals which are being raised primarily for use as food or fiber for human utilization or consumption including, but not limited to, cattle, sheep, swine, goats, and poultry;

     (3)  “Non-livestock animal” means a pet normally maintained in or near the household or households of its owner or owners, other domesticated animal, previously captured wildlife, an exotic animal, or any other pet, including but not limited to, pet rabbits, a pet chick, duck, or pot bellied pig that is not classified as “livestock” pursuant to this part; and

     (4)  “Torture” means every act, omission, or neglect whereby unreasonable physical pain, suffering, or death is caused or permitted, but nothing in this part shall be construed as prohibiting the shooting of birds or game for the purpose of human food or the use of animate targets by incorporated gun clubs.

[Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1; 1997, ch. 90, §§ 2, 5.]

39-14-202. Cruelty to animals.

(a)  A person commits an offense who intentionally or knowingly:

     (1)  Tortures, maims or grossly overworks an animal;

     (2)  Fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter for an animal in the person's custody;

     (3)  Abandons unreasonably an animal in the person's custody;

     (4)  Transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner; or

     (5)  Inflicts burns, cuts, lacerations, or other injuries or pain, by any method, including blistering compounds, to the legs or hooves of horses in order to make them sore for any purpose including, but not limited to, competition in horse shows and similar events.

(b)  A person commits an offense who knowingly ties, tethers, or restrains a dog in a manner that results in the dog suffering bodily injury as defined in § 39-11-106.

(c)  It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person was engaged in accepted veterinary practices, medical treatment by the owner or with the owner's consent, or bona fide experimentation for scientific research.

(d)  Whenever any person is taken into custody by any officer for violation of subdivision (a)(4), the officer may take charge of the vehicle or conveyance, and its contents, used by the person to transport the animal. The officer shall deposit these items in a safe place for custody. Any necessary expense incurred for taking charge of and sustaining the same shall be a lien thereon, to be paid before the same can lawfully be recovered; or the expenses, or any part thereof, remaining unpaid may be recovered by the person incurring the same of the owners of the animal in an action therefor.

(e)  In addition to the penalty imposed in subsection (g), the court making the sentencing determination for a person convicted under this section shall order the person convicted to surrender custody and forfeit the animal or animals whose treatment was the basis of the conviction. Custody shall be given to a humane society incorporated under the laws of this state. The court may prohibit the person convicted from having custody of other animals for any period of time the court determines to be reasonable, or impose any other reasonable restrictions on the person's custody of animals as necessary for the protection of the animals.

(f)  (1)  Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting the owner of a farm animal or someone acting with the consent of the owner of that animal from engaging in usual and customary practices which are accepted by colleges of agriculture or veterinary medicine with respect to that animal.

     (2)  It is an offense for a person other than a law enforcement officer acting with probable cause to knowingly interfere with the performance of any agricultural practices permitted by subdivision (f)(1).

     (3)  An offense under subdivision (f)(2) is a Class B misdemeanor.

(g)  (1)  Cruelty to animals is a Class A misdemeanor.

     (2)  A second or subsequent conviction for cruelty to animals is a Class E felony.

[Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1; 1991, ch. 223, § 1; 1992, ch. 840, § 1; 1997, ch. 90, § 4; 2004, ch. 940, § 6; 2007, ch. 535, § 1.]

39-14-203. Cock and animal fighting.

(a)  It is unlawful for any person to:

     (1)  Own, possess, keep, use or train any bull, bear, dog, cock, swine or other animal, for the purpose of fighting, baiting or injuring another such animal, for amusement, sport or gain;

     (2)  Cause, for amusement, sport or gain, any animal referenced in subdivision (a)(1) to fight, bait or injure another animal, or each other;

     (3)  Permit any acts stated in subdivisions (a)(1) and (2) to be done on any premises under the person's charge or control, or aid or abet those acts; or

     (4)  Be knowingly present, as a spectator, at any place or building where preparations are being made for an exhibition for the fighting, baiting or injuring of any animal, with the intent to be present at the exhibition, fighting, baiting or injuring.

(b)  It is the legislative intent that the provisions of this section shall not apply to the training or use of hunting dogs for sport or to the training or use of dogs for law enforcement purposes.

(c)  (1)  Except for any offense involving a cock, an offense under subdivisions (a)(1)-(3) is a Class E felony.

     (2)  An offense involving a cock under subdivisions (a)(1)-(3) is a Class A misdemeanor.

(d)  (1)  An offense under subdivision (a)(4) is a Class B misdemeanor if the person is a spectator at a dog fight.

     (2)  Any other violation of subdivision (a)(4) is a Class C misdemeanor.

(e)  It is not an offense to own, possess or keep cocks, or aid or abet the ownership, possession or keeping of cocks, for the sole purpose of selling or transporting cocks to a location in which possession or keeping of cocks is legal.

[Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1; 1990, ch. 625, §§ 1, 2; 2007, ch. 216, § 1; 2007, ch. 555, § 1.]

39-14-204. Dyed baby fowl and rabbits. —

(a)  (1)  It is unlawful for any person to:

          (A)  Sell, offer for sale, barter or give away baby chickens, ducklings or goslings of any age, or rabbits under two (2) months of age, as pets, toys, premiums or novelties, if those fowl or rabbits have been colored, dyed, stained or otherwise had their natural color changed; or

          (B)  Bring or transport such fowl or rabbits into the state for the purposes mentioned in subdivision (a)(1)(A).

     (2)  This section shall not be construed to prohibit the sale or display of baby chickens, ducklings, or other fowl or rabbits in proper facilities by breeders or stores engaged in the business of selling for purposes of commercial breeding and raising or laboratory testing.

     (3)  Each baby chicken, duckling, other fowl or rabbit sold, offered for sale, bartered or given away in violation of this section constitutes a separate offense.

(b)  A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

[Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1.]

39-14-205. Intentional killing of animal.

(a)  (1)  (A)  It is an offense to knowingly and unlawfully kill the animal of another without the owner's effective consent.

          (B)  A violation of subdivision (a)(1)(A) is theft of property, graded according to the value of the animal, and punished in accordance with § 39-14-105.

     (2)  In determining the value of a police dog, fire dog, search and rescue dog, service animal or police horse under § 39-14-105, the court shall consider the value of the police dog, fire dog, search and rescue dog, service animal or police horse as both the cost of the animal and any specialized training the animal received.

(b)  A person is justified in killing the animal of another if the person acted under a reasonable belief that the animal was creating an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to that person or another or an imminent danger of death to an animal owned by that person. A person is not justified in killing the animal of another if at the time of the killing the person is trespassing upon the property of the owner of the animal. The justification for killing the animal of another authorized by this subsection (b) shall not apply to a person who, while engaging in or attempting to escape from criminal conduct, kills a police dog that is acting in its official capacity. In that case the provisions of subsection (a) shall apply to the person.

[Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1; 1996, ch. 927, §§ 1, 2; 2004, ch. 957, § 1; 2007, ch. 466, § 1; 2008, ch. 1172, § 1.]

39-14-206. Taking fish caught by another.

(a)  It is unlawful for any person to take fish out of the box, net, basket or off the hook of another person, or to raise any box, net, basket, or trot-line, without the consent of the owner of the device, unless the fish is taken by an officer to be used as evidence in the prosecution of a violation of the game and fish laws.

(b)  Any violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

[Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1.]

39-14-207. Feeding of impounded animals — Care provided by humane society — Recovery of expenses.

(a)  In case any impounded animal is without necessary food and water for more than twelve (12) successive hours, it is lawful for any person, as often as necessary, to enter any place in which any animal is so confined, and to supply it with necessary food and water so long as it remains so confined. That person shall not be liable to any action for entry, and the reasonable cost of the food and water may be collected from the owner or keeper of the animal. The animal shall not be exempt from levy and sale upon execution issued upon a judgment therefor.

(b)  In case any animal is injured, diseased, suffering from the elements, or malnourished, and is found at large by any agent of any humane society chartered by the state, the agent may cause adequate veterinary treatment or shelter or nourishment to be furnished to the animal. The society shall have a right of action against the owner of the animal for all necessary and reasonable expenses so incurred. Within forty-eight (48) hours after taking custody of the animal, the society shall make reasonable efforts to notify the owner of the animal's whereabouts and condition. Nothing in this subsection (b) shall affect the right of action of the veterinarian or furnisher of goods or services against the person or persons with whom the veterinarian or furnisher of goods or services contracted for payment of charges. Any such right of action by a humane society may be voided by an owner who elects to forfeit the animal to the society rather than pay for the goods or services rendered.

[Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1.]

39-14-208. Actions deemed theft of guide dogs.

A person who intentionally or knowingly unlawfully injures the guide dog of another and, thereby, permanently deprives the owner of the use of the guide dog's services commits theft of that animal and shall be punished under § 39-14-105. In determining the value of the guide dog for purposes of § 39-14-105, the court shall consider the value of the guide dog as both the cost of the dog as well as the cost of any specialized training the guide dog received.

[Acts 2004, ch. 957, § 2.]

39-14-209. Horse shows.

(a)  It is the duty of any person designated and acting as a ringmaster of any horse show or similar event to disqualify any horse determined by the ringmaster to be suffering from the causes set out in § 39-14-202(a)(5) from further participation in the show, and to make a report of the same, including the name of the horse, the owner of the horse, and the exhibitor of the horse, to the manager or chair of the show, who in turn shall report the same in writing to the district attorney general of the judicial district wherein the incident occurred for appropriate action.

(b)  A violation of this duty is a Class C misdemeanor.

[Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1.]

39-14-210. Societies for prevention of cruelty to animals — Power of governmental agencies working with victimized animals. —

(a)  The agents of any society which is incorporated for the prevention of cruelty to animals, upon being appointed thereto by the president of such a society in any county, may, within that county, make arrests, and bring before any court thereof offenders found violating the provisions of this part with regard to non-livestock animals.

(b)  Any officers, agents, or members of such society may lawfully interfere to prevent the perpetration of any act of cruelty upon any animal in that person's presence. Any person who interferes with or obstructs any officer, agent, or member in the discharge of this duty commits a Class C misdemeanor.

(c)  Any agent or officer of a society may lawfully destroy, or cause to be destroyed, any animal found abandoned or otherwise:

     (1)  Which is not properly cared for, appearing, in the judgment of two (2) reputable citizens, who are experts, called to view the same in the agent's or officer's presence, to be glandered, injured or diseased past humane recovery; or

     (2)  After a holding period of not less than seventy-two (72) hours and after having made a reasonable effort to locate and notify the owners, for the purpose of animal population control.

(d)  All fines, penalties and forfeitures imposed and collected in any county, under provisions relating to or in any way affecting animals, shall inure to the society in aid of the purpose for which it was incorporated, and no injunction shall be granted against the society or attorney or its officers or agents, except upon motion, after due notice and hearing.

(e)  Any humane society chartered by the state, into whose custody shall lawfully come any animal, shall have a lien on that animal for the reasonable value of the goods and services necessarily rendered by, or at the instance of, the society to that animal.

(f)  Custody of any animal victimized under this part shall be placed with any humane society chartered by the state immediately upon arrest of the person alleged to have violated this part. The humane society shall assist the animal and preserve evidence for prosecution.

(g)  Any governmental animal control agency or any humane society, chartered by this state, into whose custody any animal victimized under this part is placed, may petition the court requesting that the person from whom the animal is seized, or the owner of the seized animal, be ordered to post security. However, if the court determines that a person from whom the posting of security has been requested is indigent pursuant to title 40, chapter 14, part 2, the court may suspend the posting of any security pending the disposition of the criminal charges. The security shall be in an amount sufficient to secure payment of all reasonable expenses expected to be incurred by the governmental animal control agency or the humane society in caring and providing for the animal pending disposition of the criminal charges. Reasonable expenses include, but are not necessarily limited to, the estimated costs of veterinary care and treatment for the animal as well as the estimated costs of boarding and otherwise caring for the animal. The amount of security shall be determined by the court after taking into consideration all of the facts and circumstances of the case. If the posting of security is ordered pursuant to this subsection (g), then the governmental animal control agency or the humane society may draw from the security the actual costs incurred in caring and providing for the seized animal pending disposition of criminal charges. If the person from whom the animal is seized is the owner of the animal and the person has not posted the security ordered pursuant to this subsection (g) within fifteen (15) business days following the issuance of a security order, the animal shall be deemed to have been abandoned and shall be forfeited to the governmental animal control agency or humane society for disposition in accordance with reasonable practices for the humane treatment of animals. 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. If the owner of the animal cannot be located after reasonable efforts or the owner is located and notified but does not post, within ten (10) business days, the court-ordered security plus the costs reasonably incurred by the governmental animal control agency or humane society for housing and caring for the animal since its seizure, the animal shall be deemed to have been abandoned and shall be forfeited to the governmental animal control agency or humane society for disposition in accordance with reasonable practices for the humane treatment of animals. Nothing in this subsection (g) shall be construed to prevent the voluntary, permanent relinquishment of any animal by its owner to a governmental animal control agency or to a humane society, chartered by the state, in lieu of posting security. The voluntary relinquishment has no effect on the outcome of the criminal charges.

[Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 1; 1997, ch. 90, § 1; 2004, ch. 920, § 2; 2007, ch. 128, §§ 1, 2.]

39-14-211. Examination of livestock by county agricultural extension agent.

No entry onto the property of another, arrest, interference with usual and customary agricultural or veterinary practices, confiscation, or any other action authorized by this part or any other provision of law shall be taken in response to an allegation that this part has been violated with regard to livestock unless, prior to or at the same time as such action, the livestock in question is examined by the county agricultural extension agent of the county, a graduate of an accredited college of veterinary medicine specializing in livestock practice or a graduate from an accredited college of agriculture with a specialty in livestock. If the extension agent, veterinary college graduate specializing in livestock practice or livestock specialist does not have probable cause to believe that a violation of this part has occurred with regard to the livestock, no action against the owner of the livestock described in this section shall be taken. If a person authorized by this section does not make an inspection within twenty-four (24) hours of receipt of a complaint, then a licensed veterinarian may make the inspection.

[Acts 1997, ch. 90, § 3.]

39-14-212. Aggravated cruelty to animals — Definitions — Construction — Penalty.

(a)  A person commits aggravated cruelty to animals when, with aggravated cruelty and with no justifiable purpose, the person intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal.

(b)  For purposes of this section:

     (1)  “Aggravated cruelty” means conduct which is done or carried out in a depraved and sadistic manner and which tortures or maims an animal, including the failure to provide food and water to a companion animal resulting in a substantial risk of death or death;

     (2)  “Companion animal” means any non-livestock animal as defined in § 39-14-201(3);

     (3)  “Elderly” means any person sixty-five (65) years of age or older; and

     (4)  “Minor” means any person under eighteen (18) years of age.

(c)  The provisions of subsection (a) are not to be construed to prohibit or interfere with the following endeavors:

     (1)  The provisions of this section are not to be construed to change, modify, or amend any provision of title 70, involving fish and wildlife;

     (2)  The provisions of this section do not apply to activities or conduct that are prohibited by § 39-14-203;

     (3)  The provisions of this section do not apply to equine animals or to animals defined as livestock by the provisions of § 39-14-201;

     (4)  Dispatching an animal in any manner absent of aggravated cruelty;

     (5)  Engaging in lawful hunting, trapping, or fishing activities, including activities commonly associated with the hunting of small game as defined in § 70-1-101(a)(34);

     (6)  Dispatching rabid or diseased animals;

     (7)  Dispatching animals posing a clear and immediate threat to human safety;

     (8)  Performing or conducting bona fide scientific tests, experiments or investigations within or for a bona fide research laboratory, facility or institution;

     (9)  Performing accepted veterinary medical practices or treatments;

     (10)  Dispatching animals in accordance with § 44-17-403(e);

     (11)  Engaging, with the consent of the owner of a farm animal, in usual and customary practices which are accepted by colleges of agriculture or veterinary medicine with respect to that animal;

     (12)  Dispatching wild or abandoned animals on a farm or residential real property; or

     (13)  Applying methods and equipment used to train animals.

(d)  Aggravated cruelty to animals is a Class E felony.

(e)  In addition to the penalty imposed by subsection (d), the sentencing court may order the defendant to surrender custody and forfeit all companion animals as defined in subdivision (b)(2), and may award custody of the animals to the agency presenting the case. The court may prohibit the defendant from having custody of other animals for any period of time the court determines to be reasonable, or impose any other reasonable restrictions on the person's custody of animals as is necessary for the protection of the animals.

(f)  In addition to the penalty imposed by subsection (d), the court may require the defendant to undergo psychological evaluation and counseling, the cost to be borne by the defendant. If the defendant is indigent, the court may, where practicable, direct the defendant to locate and enroll in a counseling or treatment program with an appropriate agency.

(g)  If a defendant convicted of a violation of this section resides in a household with minor children or elderly individuals, the court may, within fifteen (15) days, send notification of the conviction to the appropriate protective agencies.

(h)  In addition to the penalty imposed by subsection (d), the defendant may be held liable to the impounding officer or agency for all costs of impoundment from the time of seizure to the time of proper disposition of the case.

(i)  (1)  In addition to the penalty imposed by subsection (d), the defendant may be held liable to the owner of the animal for damages.

     (2)  If an unlawful act resulted in the death or permanent disability of a person's guide dog, then the value of the guide dog shall include, but shall not necessarily be limited to, both the cost of the guide dog as well as the cost of any specialized training the guide dog received.

(j)  If a juvenile is found to be within the court's jurisdiction, for conduct that, if committed by an adult, would be a criminal violation involving cruelty to animals or would be a criminal violation involving arson, then the court may order that the juvenile be evaluated to determine the need for psychiatric or psychological treatment. If the court determines that psychiatric or psychological treatment is appropriate for that juvenile, then the court may order that treatment.

(k)  This section does not preclude the court from entering any other order of disposition allowed under this chapter.

[Acts 2002, ch. 858, §§ 1, 2; 2004, ch. 920, § 1; 2004, ch. 940, § 5; 2004, ch. 957, § 4.]

 

39-14-213. Removal of transmitting collars or microchip implants from dogs.

(a)  A person who removes from a dog an electronic or radio transmitting collar or microchip implant without the permission of the owner of the dog and with the intent to prevent or hinder the owner from locating the dog commits a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by fine only; provided, however, that, if the dog wearing an electronic or radio transmitting collar or microchip implant is lost or killed as the proximate result of the removal of the collar or implant, the person commits a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by fine only.

(b)  Upon conviction for a violation of this section, the court shall order that the violator pay as restitution to the owner the actual value of a dog lost or killed as a result of the removal of an electronic or radio transmitting collar or microchip implant from the dog by the violator. The court may also order the violator to pay as restitution to the owner any breeding revenues forfeited due to the loss or death of a dog.

[Acts 2007, ch. 70, § 1.]

39-14-214. Criminal offenses against animals.

(a)  A person commits an offense who knowingly:

     (1)  Engages in any sexual activity with an animal;

     (2)  Causes, aids, or abets another person to engage in any sexual activity with an animal;

     (3)  Permits any sexual activity with an animal to be conducted on any premises under the person's charge or control;

     (4)  Engages in, organizes, promotes, conducts, advertises, aids, abets, participates in as an observer, or performs any service in the furtherance of an act involving any sexual activity with an animal for a commercial or recreational purpose; or

     (5)  Photographs or films, for purposes of sexual gratification, a person engaged in a sexual activity with an animal.

(b)  A violation of this section is a Class E felony.

(c)  In addition to the penalty imposed in subsection (b), the court may order that the convicted person do any of the following:

     (1)  Not harbor or own animals or reside in any household where animals are present;

     (2)  Participate in appropriate counseling at the defendant's expense; or

     (3)  Reimburse the animal shelter or humane society for any reasonable costs incurred for the care and maintenance of any animals taken to the animal shelter or humane society as a result of conduct proscribed in subsection (a).

(d)  Nothing in this section may be considered to prohibit accepted animal husbandry practices or accepted veterinary medical practices.

(e)  If the court has reasonable grounds to believe that a violation of this section has occurred, the court may order the seizure of all animals involved in the alleged violation as a condition of bond of a person charged with a violation.

(f)  For purposes of this section:

     (1)  “Animal” has the same meaning as the term is defined in § 63-12-103;

     (2)  “Photographs” or “films” means the making of a photograph, motion picture film, videotape, digital image, or any other recording, sale, or transmission of the image; and

     (3)  “Sexual activity” means physical sexual contact between the person and the animal.

[Acts 2007, ch. 510, § 1.]

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