Legislature considers new rules for dangerous dogs

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Tennessee State Legislature is considering new rules for dangerous dogs after a pit bull attack led to the death of an elderly man in Memphis.

Two dogs mauled William Parker, 71, to death in July.  Now, Tennessee State Representative GA Hardaway wants to get tough on irresponsible dog owners.

"You've got to hit them in the pocketbook. That's where it hurts," animal advocate Beverly King said.

Which is exactly what one of Hardaway's bills would do.

Right now breaking the leash law will cost people in Tennessee 50-bucks. Hardaway wants the fine to start at 100 dollars. Then, if dogs kill someone, like what happened to Parker, owners would face a 1-thousand dollar fine.

If a dog was already known to be dangerous, the fine could go as high as 25-thousand dollars. Eric Hart rescues Pit Bulls. He says it is impossible to know if the new laws would make an impact.

"People who let their dogs run around loose are totally neglectful already," Hart said.

Hardaway wants to make it illegal for violent felons to own dogs known to be dangerous.

"Violent people don't need violent dogs," King said.

Finally, Hardaway wants owners of loose dogs that have already attacked a person or a pet to have $15,000 in liability insurance.

"I feel like 15-thousand in liability insurance is pretty lenient," Hart said.

In Memphis dangerous dog owners must already have $50,000 worth of liability insurance.

Animal Advocates admit it's tough to enforce such laws.

If you're not going to take care to keep your dog indoors, you're probably not going to take care to do these other things like getting insurance," Hart said.

Hardaway says the costs of the laws would be paid for through the new fines. None of his proposals are breed specific.

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