Dog laws - Part 2 ‘Please Re-Leash Me’

This series of columns covers some of the dog laws in Tennessee. Since most dogs don’t read well, these columns are for dog owners – and their neigh­bors.


“Dog Laws – Part 1” discussed the Tennessee law that requires dogs older than six months to wear a collar and rabies tag, with limited exceptions.


“Dog Laws – Part 2” reflects that some Tennessee dog owners allow their dogs to run loose, without being controlled by an invisible fence or an actual fence.  That can cause problems.


Q. Is it legal for an owner to let a dog run at large if the dog is wearing a collar and rabies tag?

No. Two statewide laws cover this situation. One law says that any dog found running at large may be seized by a peace officer and placed in a city or county dog pound. “Peace officer” means animal control officer, police, rabies control officer, sheriff or deputy, or wildlife officer.


The other statewide law says that it is a Class C misdemeanor for owners to allow their dogs to run at large on someone else’s property or on a public road or street. Once again, there are exceptions to this law. Dogs are not “running at large” if they are hunting dogs that are on a hunt or chase or if they are guard­ing or driving livestock.


Q. What happens to a dog that has been taken to the pound?

If the dog is wearing a collar and rabies tag, reason­able efforts must be made to notify the owner. If the dog has no vaccination tag or other identification, the owner has three business days to claim the animal and pay the pound fee before it is adopted or destroyed.


A dog may be euthanized earlier if it is “injured, dangerous, or severely diseased.”


Jim Hawkins is a general practice and public interest law attorney based in Gallatin. This column represents legal information, and is not intended to take the place of legal advice.  All cases are different and need individual attention.  Consult with a private attorney of your choice to review the facts and law specific to your case. To suggest future column topics, call (615) 452-9200.


Recommended for you