MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT) -- Every animal cruelty bill introduced in the Tennessee Legislature this session has either failed or stalled and one legislator says a single committee is largely responsible.
Among the bills to fail or stall this session include one that would have raised the fine for cock or dog fighting from $50 to $500. Another would have created a registry for convicted animal abusers.
Republican Rep Jon Lundberg of Bristol says every animal welfare bill introduced is being diverted to the House Agriculture Committee so that they can be killed.
“The Ag Committee has a great purpose, you know, when you’re dealing with livestock - cows, lambs, sheep or things like that. But when you’re dealing with raising penalties for misdemeanors to higher misdemeanors or felonies, the appropriate place for that kind of legislation isn’t in the Ag Committee unless somebody wants the bill to die.”
Fellow Republican Andy Holt of Dresden is the Vice Chair of the House Agriculture Committee. He objects strongly to Lundgren’s characterization. He says the bills were voted down because they were too expensive in a year of tight budgets, or because they duplicated existing laws.
“You know, for this to be a one-sided issue that Andy Holt doesn’t like animals and John Lundberg does is not a fair argument, because that’s not true. I wish that it would not be cast in that way.”
Holt says he’s a farmer and makes his living by insuring his animals are never stressed.
Lundgren notes that Tennessee has the weakest animal cruelty laws in the region and so is attracting animal fight promoters from surrounding states.
Would you like to review the animal cruelty bills considered by legislators this session?