Animal rights advocates are taking a new strategy at getting bills passed in the Tennessee Legislature.
According to WSMV-TV in Nashville, bills involving animal rights are currently sent to agriculture committees, and those looking to protect pets say more often than not, their ideas are killed by influential farmers.
So now they're looking for a change of venue.
Thursday morning, pet protection groups delivered petitions with 4,000 signatures to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell, asking to put the bills in front of judiciary instead of agriculture.
WSMV says some of the animal rights bills that have been defeated in the agriculture committee include:
- The Commercial Breeder Act that forced breeders to get licenses and face suspensions failed in the Senate agriculture committee.
- The bill to put animal abusers on a registry was killed in the House agriculture committee.
- The bill to raise fines for attending a cockfight was killed in House agriculture.
- The bill to limit chaining dogs was killed in House agriculture subcommittee.
- The bill to raise fines for animal fighting never got to House agriculture.
Speaker Harwell told WSMV she is open to working with the petitioners on the issue.
"Keep in mind, this is a very rural state. We have a lot of farmers in this state and we want to be protective of their farms and their rights for their animals. But we've come a long way in how we see animals, and there are, I think, a distinction between companion and service animals, as opposed to ones that are in the farms," she told Channel 4. "We're trying to weigh that all out, but I'm certainly open to working with them on the issue."