Kilby's bill to ban potentially vicious dogs in Tennessee

By: Kim Bedford
By: Kim Bedford

Morgan County (WVLT) -- An East Tennessee lawmaker is trying to pass legislation calling for a statewide ban on all vicious dogs.

According to Senator Tommy Kilby D-Wartburg, the idea for the bill came after Jennifer Lowe was attacked and killed by two pit bulls in West Knox County back in November.

Kilby’s bill would apply to anyone owning any vicious dogs and could result in more than just a misdemeanor.

But some dog lovers disagree with Kilby’s law.

“She is very sweet,” said Erin Captain, a pit bull owner. “She has got to be sitting on my lap at all times or right next to me."

Four year old Athena and her five month old Lucy were the focus of Kilby's original bill to ban all pit bulls from the state.

"I don't think that's fair to the owners that have been responsible pit bull owners,” she said. “I don't see why I should have to lose mine because somebody has trained their dog to attack."

But as of Friday, Kilby said he no longer wanted to just target pit bulls.

"It's a work in progress and what we're going to do is probably address all vicious dogs," he said.

The goal of his bill is to put a stop to serious injuries and deaths caused by dog attacks.

"Any dog that has the propensity or history of being violent or has bitten someone,” he said. “The owner would be responsible for that dog's actions."

"That's going to be really interesting since the majority of bites come from small dogs," said Melinda Green, another pit bull owner.

Green and Captain both said that because of their dog’s protective nature, the ban should be circumstantial.

"If somebody had broken into my house and Athena protected me and bit them, of course I wouldn't think that she should be taken away from me or put down," said Captain.

"I don't think it would be enforceable, not an across the board thing," said Green.

Sen. Kilby said local law enforcement would be in charge of enforcing the ban.

"People need to be as responsible with a vicious dog as they have to be with a gun," he said.

According to Kilby, he'll be working with attorneys over the next couple of weeks to finalize just how far reaching this proposed ban should be.

He hopes to have the bill passed some time this year.

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