NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee house committee is discussing stronger penalties for animal abuse.
The bill would require a person to spend 180 days in jail if they're caught a second time being especially cruel to animals, or if it's their first time but five or more animals are involved.
Right now, the crimes are Class E felonies. Meaning they don't carry mandatory minimum jail time. This new bill would bump the crime up to a Class C felony.
"I'm in full support of it, because you know the only people looking out for the dogs are the owners. And I feel like it's something as a community we need to do as well," said animal advocate Casey Oltamn.
He and other animal advocates we spoke to back the bill drawn up by Rep. Bruce Griffey of Paris, Tennessee. He took to social media in February 2019 to announce his efforts and posted about a dog found in Benton County. The 4 year old Golden Retriever was covered in skin infections and was beyond starving.
The owner was never found. But shelters across the state, including some in the Mid-South, said this is common.
Griffey also put in the bill animal abusers must pay shelters or rescue groups for medical expenses and boarding for the animals they hurt.
The house criminal judicial subcommittee will continue discussing the bill at the next meeting. To track it progress click here .