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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  • by Bryant Location: Memphis on Feb 4, 2009 at 05:29 AM
    If you go ban a certain breed of dog, you might as well ban all dogs cause any dog can be vicious. Any dog can bite. The pitbull is not a the reason why they have a bad repp! Its the owners who trained them to have a bad repp. Ban the owners that trained them to be vicious. And what do a American Bulldog got to do with a pitbull? Nuthing at all! 2 diffierent dogs from 2 diffierent dogs familys. If this bill pass and i hope it dont, alot of owners will be hurt cause a dog is like an family member.
  • by Kathryn Slay Location: Knoxville, TN on Feb 1, 2008 at 12:23 AM
    It is true that as of right now, Knox County does not have a "vicious dog" law. Again, I would like to point out that the issue surrounding the dogs is not to be taken personally by the dog owners. We owned large breed dogs and look what happened. They were friendly, gentle, well taken care of. They came in the house and played outside with our children. They went through obedience traning and were neutered. They just turned. It is important to understand the laws of nature. They are animals, not just pets. They are capable of hurting someone. I agree that there has been too much press about Pitts and Rotties and not enough about other large breed dogs known for attacking people. German Shepherds are listed in the top 10 most likely to attack a person, but there isn't ever any mention of them in the news.
  • by Mike Location: Harriman on Jan 20, 2008 at 08:34 AM
    This law sounds to me like so much low brow media attention politics. Another politician grand standing for votes. I have an American Bulldog and a Boxer and have owned several so called "vicious" breeds in the past. All wonderful friendly family dogs. My current dogs are no exception to this. They are loving ,friendly and loyal and live to play with kids and adults alike. Will they protect their home and family? You bet, with their lives if necessary. Will under this new law my dogs be put down for protecting their family? I believe local officials and law enforcements already have the authority to deal with truly vicious animals. Why pass a law that empowers then with the ability to abuse that power. If you think abuse of power won't happen, think again IT WILL! One barking dog and an official who is afraid of dogs is all it takes. What language is written into this law to protect the dog owner?
  • by verna Location: sevier on Jan 19, 2008 at 11:30 PM
    my pit bulls are awesome they are very great dogs not harmful at all my 18 year old son can roll down the hill with them they are very playful it is all in how they are raised you can teach any dog to be mean any breed just not pit bulls
  • by dale Location: tazewell on Jan 19, 2008 at 08:55 PM
    thats murder it has a heartbeat
  • by Justin Location: Knoxville on Jan 19, 2008 at 05:00 PM
    I am partners with a friend and we own a kennel that breeds AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIERS.We have about 15 dogs total and none of our dogs have ever bitten anyone including the neighborhood kids,my little sister or any of his 5 little girls.It's not all pit bulls that are vicious.Our dogs get along great with all people and other dogs. It's not fair at all to take away something that is a huge part of our/my life b/c of the way other pit bull owners treat and care for their dogs. It's not our fault that some very irresponsible owners let their dogs run loose.Dog fighting is illegal and is banned. But people still fight them.So why ban all Pit bulls.People will still have them. The punishment and sentences should raised for people that train their dogs to be vicious.If a dog can be trained to be vicious it can be trained to be a sweet and loving member of the family JUST LIKE MINE.
  • by regina on Jan 19, 2008 at 09:25 AM
  • by charles carter Location: crab orchard on Jan 19, 2008 at 08:44 AM
    here we go again tommy kilby should try outlaw everthing because there is a risk to eveyone every day that we live no one can live risk would be nice but KILBY should get his head out of the sand.just look at all the laws that has been passed and they have stopped nothing totally.
  • by RANDY Location: SEVIERVILLE, TN. on Jan 18, 2008 at 11:56 PM
  • by Stella Location: Knoxville on Jan 18, 2008 at 09:14 PM
    I like this bill. If passed and enforced it should go along ways in being able to get something done about dangerous and uncontrolled dogs. The way things stand now here in Knox Country you are on your own in dealing with aggressive dangerous dogs. If this law is passed state wide it would have to be enforced by Knox County Animal Control or another agency.


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