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Tennessee Governor Bill Lee

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PETITION TARGET: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee

UPDATE (12/1/2021): The Tennessee Protect Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS) Act was amended after being introduced in 2019 and failed to move through the House Criminal Justice subcommittee. The bill has been taken off notice. While we are disappointed by the key safety provisions that would have been afforded to animals by the bill, as originally proposed, we thank the more than 24, 400 people who signed our petition. We will continue doing all we can to promote legislation that will truly make a difference for animal welfare. —Lady Freethinker


All too often, the most heartbreaking acts of animal cruelty go unpunished, or abusers get away with just a small fine.

A new bill in Tennessee would help change that — we must speak out to help this important legislation pass!

The Tennessee P.A.W.S. Act (Protect Animal Welfare and Safety), filed by Tennessee Representative Bruce Griffey, would enforce mandatory minimum prison sentences for repeat animal cruelty offenders.

Aggravated cruelty to animals would continue to be listed as a Class E felony, with a punishment of up to six years imprisonment or a maximum fine of $3,000.

However, if someone commits a second act of cruelty involving five or more animals, the crime would be upgraded to a Class C felony, with a minimum sentence of 180 days in jail. Perpetrators would be required to complete 100 percent of the sentence.

Griffey says the bill is still a work in progress, and also wants a mandatory fine and mandatory minimum restitution paid to shelters to cover the costs of caring for abused animals. We would also like to see mandatory sentences for all cases of severe cruelty, even if just one animal is involved.

If passed by the Tennessee General Assembly, the bill would come into effect on July 1st this year.

Sign the petition urging Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to fully support this bill and ensure it passes, strengthening animal welfare laws in the state and deterring animal abusers from committing violence against the helpless.