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Bill could ban animal abusers from owning pets again

Posted at 3:33 PM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-24 23:59:25-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee lawmakers take a step toward stopping animal abuse by approving a Senate bill that could prevent some convicted animal abusers from ever owning an animal again.

Senate Bill 1747 passed on Monday with a 24-4 vote. It is sponsored by Senator Jon Lundberg (R - Bristol). It builds upon the Tennessee Animal Abuser Registration Act, that was passed 5 years ago, and places animal abusers on the public online animal abuser registry.

The bill goes one step further and “requires a sentencing court to prohibit a defendant convicted of certain offenses against animals from owning any companion animal for at least two years from the date of conviction.” It also gives judges the option of implementing a lifetime ban for anyone convicted of animal cruelty or animal abuse.

"When you’re convicted of animal abuse not only should you go online, and be posted there, but you shouldn’t own a domesticated animal," said Sen. Lundberg.

Sen. Lundberg hoped the bill would prevent animal cruelty by keeping animals out of the hands of convicted abusers.

"It's not one of those where I forgot to feed the dog, or I didn’t let the dog out," said Sen. Lundberg. "It's nothing like that. These charges are severe, and pretty ugly if you look at what’s been done."

Sen. Lundberg's 10-year-old English Lab Nash is a fixture in his Senate office. His dog comes to work with him every day and is well-known among lawmakers.

"Domesticated animals do bring a certain amount of joy and pleasure to everyone," said Sen. Lundberg.

The bill still needs approval from the House. It is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Darren Jernigan. If approved, and signed by Governor Bill Lee, it would take effect July 1, 2020 and would apply to offenses committed on or after that date.