On Tuesday, January 24, 2023, Knoxville City Council will take up an update to City Code, Chapter 5 to establish additional minimum requirements for the care and keeping of animals on second reading. Item 9b was the focus of a great deal of public input and debate during first reading on January 10th. You can watch the discussion by following the link here to the Knoxville Community Media recording of the meeting. For ease of review:

  • Time Stamp 1:32:35 – Reading of the agenda item and related procedural motions
  • Time Stamp 1:39:03 – Public Forum on agenda items
  • Time Stamp 2:27:53 – Council Debate on agenda items

Most of the discussion was focused on making tethering of an animal unlawful unless a responsible and competent person is supervising. This means that the owner or a person designated by the owner is outside with the tethered animal and within visual range. You can find this specific section on packet page 23, beginning at section (c).

In addition to the unsupervised tethering section, there are other important animal welfare updates that I’d like to share with you:

First, the update increases fines for violations from $25 to $50.

The update makes it unlawful to transport or confine an animal in a manner that causes pain, suffering or death including keeping an animal in a vehicle or other type of conveyance without adequate ventilation or enclosing any animal in the trunk of a vehicle.

Further, the update requires owners to provide clean, sanitary, and humane conditions and provide the minimum care sufficient to preserve the health and well-being of the animal. This includes:

  • Food in sufficient quantity to allow for normal growth or maintenance of body weight.
  • Access to fresh, clean, potable water in sufficient quantity to satisfy the animal’s needs. Water must be shaded and cool in warm weather and unfrozen in cold weather. Snow or ice is not an adequate water source.
  • Provide immediate veterinary care to relieve distress from injury, neglect, or disease.
  • Provide adequate space for exercise, for dogs that is an area at least 200 square feet per animal for animals housed outside.
  • Owners must bring animals inside during periods of extreme weather conditions including temperatures over 85 degrees or temperatures 32 degrees or lower. This includes periods of snow, ice, sleet, severe lightning, tornadoes, flooding, and fires.

The update also makes it unlawful to:

  • Intentionally or knowingly torture, maim or grossly overwork an animal.
  • Unreasonably abandon an animal in a person’s custody.
  • Inflict burns, cuts, lacerations or other injuries or pain by any method, including blistering compounds for any purpose including the legs or hooves of horses to make them sore for any purpose including competition in horse shows and similar events.
  • Tie, tether, or restrain an animal in a manner that results in the animal suffering bodily injury.
  • Tease, molest, bait or in any other way bother any animal.

If you’d like to read the complete proposed ordinance update that Council will consider at the January 24, 2023 meeting, you can follow the link here, item 9b begins on packet page 14.

I’m pleased to support this common sense update to our city code and will keep working on measures that advance the well-being of all in Knoxville.

6 thoughts on “For The Care and Keeping of Animals

  1. I agree with all the requirements except the one about having dogs inside when the temperature is higher than 85 degrees or lower than 32 degrees. Some breeds can tolerate or even relish hot or cold weather. (A part husky I had loved lying outside in the snow in 20 degree weather.)

    This requirement should be more flexible. For example, require appropriate outdoor shelter if the weather is hot or cold.


  2. Kudos to you and the rest of Council for the manner in which this was handled! Y’all stuck with facts and have hammered out a pretty good agreement, while identifying issues of concern to keep an eye on. This is what good government looks like!


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