There is a book 2 inches thick on animal law in our state. Most of the language is full of legal jargon, so we will simplify as best as we can. We are always available to

Answer any of your questions or clarify the law. Please see “How to contact us

&39-14-201 Definitions of animal offenses

As used in this part, unless otherwise stated:

1) Animal refers to a domesticated living creature or wild creature

Previously captured

2) Livestock refers to all equine as well as animals raised primarily

For food or fiber for human consumption, including cattle,

Sheep, swine, goats, and poultry.

3) Non livestock refers to a pet normally maintained in or near

A household in #1 as well as exotic animals, pet rabbits, pert

Chicks and ducks, pot bellied pigs not previously referred to

As livestock.

4) Torture refers to every act, omission, or neglect that brings

Unreasonable pain, suffering or death. This does not include

The shooting of wild birds or game for human consumption.

&39-14-202 Cruelty to animals

(a) A person commits an offense who intentionally or knowingly:

1) tortures, maims, or grossly overworks an animal;

2) fails to provide necessary food, water, care, and shelter for

Animal in the person’s custody

3) abandons unreasonable an animal in their custody

4) transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner

5) inflicts burns, cuts, lacerations, or other injuries or pain,

By any method, including blistering compounds to the legs or

Hooves of horses for competition or show purposes.

(b) No experimentation on any animal that causes pain and

Suffering is allowed.

c) Wnen a person is taken in custody due to any violations as in

Relation to (a) 4, the vehicle may be seized along with it’s


D) In addition TO penalty imposed in subsection F below, the court

Award custody of animal9s) to a humane society incorporated

Under Tennessee law. The court may prohibit person convicted

From having custody of other animals for a said amount of



$39-14-203 Cock & animal fighting

A) It is unlawful for any person to:

1) own, possess, keep, use or train any bull, bear, dog, cock, or

Animal for the purpose of fighting, baiting, or injuring

Another animal for amusement, sport or gain;

2) Cause , for amusement, sport or gain, any such animal to

Fight, bait or injure another animal or each other;

3) permit any such acts stated above to be done on any

Premises under the person’s charge or control, or aid

And aid or abet such act;

4) be knowingly present as a spectator at any place where

Preparations are being made for such exhibitions

B) This does NOT include the training of hunting dogs for

Sport or law enforcement purposes

C) (1) Except for any offenses involving a cock, an offense under

(a) (1) - ( 3 ) is a class E felony.

(2) an offense involving a cock under (a) (1 ) - ( 3 ) is a

Class A Misdemeanor

D) An offense under (a) (4) is a Class A misdemeanor

E) It is not an offense to own, possess or keep cocks, or aid

And abet the owner. For the sole purpose of selling or

Transporting such cocks to a location in which possession of

Such cocks is legal.


A) It is unlawful for any person to:

(1) sell, barter or give away baby chicks, ducklings or

Goslings of any age or rabbitsunder (2) two months of

Age as pets, premiums or novelties if suck animal has been

Colored, dyed or stained or otherwise had it’s natural

Color changed;

(2) bring or transport such animal into Tennessee for

Such purposes.

(B) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

&39-14-205 Intentional killing of animal

(A) A person who intentioinall kills the animal of another with

The intent to deprive the owner of the right to keep

His animal or without the owners consent commits

Theft of the animal and shall be punished under


(B) A person is justified in killing an animal if the person

Acted under reasonable belief that the animal was

Posing a threat of danger, injury or death to such person

&39-14-207 Feeding of impounded animals--care provided by

Humane society or rescue group

(A) If any impounded animal is without necessary food & water

For more than 12 successive hours, it is lawful for any

Person, as often as necessary, to enter a place where the

Animal is confined, and give food and water to the animal

As long as it remains confined. That person will not be liable

To any action for such entry and a reasonable cost of the

Food and water may be collected from the owner or keeper

Of the animal.

(B) If an animal is found to be injured, diseased, malnourished

Suffering from the elements, an agent of any humane

Society chartered by the state may request veterinary

Treatment, shelter or nourishment to be given to this

Animal. The society will have the right to take action

Against the owner for all necessary and reasonable expenses

Incurred. Within 48 hours,after taking custody of the

Animal, the society must make reasonable efforts to notify

Owner of the animal’s whereabouts. Any right of action by

The society will be voided if owner decides to relinquish

Animal to society rather than pay for goods or services


&39-14-211 Powers of Societies for the prevention of cruelty to


((A) Agents of any society which is formed for the prevenmtion

Of cruelty to animals, may, within specific county of

Incorporation, make arrests and bring before any court,

Any offenders found violating provisions with regard to

Non-livestock animals.

(B) Any officers, agents or members of such society may

Lawfully interfere to prevent any act of cruelty upon any

Animal in that person’s presence. Any person who inter-

Feres with or obstructs any such agent commits a Class

C misdemeanor .

C) Any agent or member of such society may lawfully

destroy or cause to be destroyed,any animal found

Abandoned or otherwise:

---- Which is not properly cared for , in the judgement of

2 reputable citizens, called to view the animal, found to

Be beyond humane recovery.

---- after a holding period of 72 hours and having made

Reasonable efforts to locate owner, for the purpose of

Animal population control.

(D) All fines, penalties and forfeitures imposed and collected

In any county, under provisions relating to or in any way

Affecting animals, shall inure to such society in aid of the

Purpose for which it was incorporated---no injunction

Shall be granted against such society after due notice and


(E) Any humane society chartered by the state, into whose

Custody shall lawfully come any animal, shall have a lien on

That animal for the reasonable value of goods and services

Necessarily rendered by or at the request of such society.

(F) Custody of any animal victimized under these laws shall be

Placed with any humane society chartered by the state

Immediately upon arrest of the person alleged to have

Been in violation of these laws. The society will assist the

Animal and preserve evidence for prosecution.

&39-14-212 Aggravated cruelty to animals--defintion & penalty

(A) A person commits aggravated cruelty to animals when,

With no justifiable purpose, such person intentionally

Causes physical injury to or kills a companion animal.

Aggravated cruelty means conduct which is done or

Carried out in a depraved and sadistic manner which

Tortures, maims or kills an animal.

(B) A first time conviction for aggravated cruelty to animals

Is a Class A misdemeanor. Any subsequent conviction is

A Class E felony. In addition to the penalty imposed

By the court, the sentencing court may order the defen-

Dant to surrender custody and forfeit all companion

Animals and award custody of said animals to the agency

Representing ther animals. The court may also prohibit

The defendant from having custody of other animals for

A period of time deemed reasonable by the court

&44-8-410 Female dogs: confinement while in heat

Every owner of a female dog is required to confine the same

For 24 days during the time she is in heat ( season ).

&44-8-411 Crippling, killing or destroying a female in heat

Any person crippling, killing or in any way destroying a

Female dog in heat that is running around at large shall

Not be held liable for the damages due to such killing or


&44-17-502 Adoption requirements for the TN Spay/Neuter Law

(A) No person shall adopt a dog or cat from an agency

Including but not limited to an animal shelter, dog

Pound , animal control agency, or humane shelter

Operated by a governmental agency or a private

Organization operating a shelter from which animals

Are adopted or reclaimed, unless:

-----dog or cat has already been spayed or neutered.

-----new owner signs a written agreement with the

Agency stating that the new owner will have pet

Spayed or neutered by a licensed vet----

1) within 30 days of the adoption date (if the animal is

Sexually mature

2) within 30 days after the pet reaches 6 months of age

(B) Nothing in this section shall preclude the sterilization of

A sexually immature pet at the discretion of a licensed vet

With the consent of the new owner

&44-17-503 Deposit

(A) If the pet being adopted has not been spayed or

Neutered, the agency must require a deposit of not less

Than $25.00 from the new owner prior to the adoption

In order to insure that the pet is spayed or neutered.

The new owner may request and shall receive a refund of

The deposit from the agency upon providing confir-

Mation of the spaying or neutering.

(B) If the new owner fails to have the pet sterilized within

Time frame established, or if the surgery is timely

Performed but the new owner fails to request the

Refund within 10 days of completion of the surgery,

The new owner forfeit’s the deposit to the agency and

It shall be used to conduct programs to spay / neuter

Pets or to conduct educational programs in support of

The spay/neuter program.

&44-17-504 Compliance petition

If a person fails to comply with the provisions of the spay /

Neuter agreement, the agency may file a petition with a

Court seeking compliance and/or requesting return of the

Pet to the agency from which it was adopted.

&68-8-104 Vaccination & registation of dogs & cats

It is unlawful for any person to own, keep or harbor any

Dog or cat which has not been vaccinated against rabies .

Evidence of such vaccination shall consist of a tag issued

And worn on the collar of the pet as well as a copy of the

Certificate given at the time of the injection.