There is no statewide pit bull ban in Tennessee, but the individual cities, towns and other municipalities are free to enact their own ordinances. Many cities throughout Tennessee have restricted pit bull ownership. Tennessee does have a dog bite law that holds owners accountable if a dog attacks.
Pit bulls are lovable creatures. They are commonly used as pets or guard dogs because of their strength and loyalty. Unfortunately, the growing incidences of injuries and death attributed to these pets have led to the introduction of tougher laws on their control by numerous states. An example of one such state is Tennessee.
Proposed State Legislative Ban
In 2008, Senator Tommy Kilby put forward a bill that, if passed, would make Tennessee the first state to completely outlaw the ownership and breeding of pit bulls. After concerned cries from the public, he withdrew the ban, explaining that his intention was not to actually ban pit bulls but intended at spurring owners to become more responsible. His actions, however, encouraged member cities to implement stronger laws controlling the handling of dogs.
Following in the footsteps of forerunners such as Canada, as many as 33 cities in the state of Tennessee have adopted ordinances that place heavy restrictions on the ownership and handling of pit bulls. These laws are designed to protect people from dog injuries and encourage better ownership. Some of these cities (at the time of publication) include Brownsville, Dyer, Estill Springs, Fayetteville, Grand Junction, Greenbrier, Halls, Harriman, Henderson, Jefferson City, Kenton, Kimball, Lewisburg, Manchester, Morrison, Red Boiling Springs, Ripley, Rogersville, Signal Mountain, Somerville, South Fulton, South Pittsburg, Sparta, Springfield, Wartrace, Watertown and White Pine.
The Acklen Act of 2007
The Acklen Act of 2007 is enforced among all the cities within the state of Tennessee, to ensure that people are protected from possible attacks from dogs. Owners are liable for injuries if their dog is not under reasonable control or is running around. Pit bulls are not allowed in public places or parks for this reason.
Legal Exceptions to the Law
There are certain scenarios where exemptions might be made for the dog bite statues in Tennessee pit bull laws. For instance, owners are not held liable if their pit bulls cause injuries while protecting people from being attacked. There is also no liability if a pit bull causes injury while performing law enforcement duties with the military or police. The statute also prohibits lawsuits if there is evidence that a victim provoked the dog to attack. Finally, attacks within the residence or noncommercial property owned or rented by a pit bull owner are also exempt from potential lawsuits.