Tennessee's Animal Cruelty Law


TENN. CODE ANN. 39-14-201 et seq. -- last amended 2002

Definition of Animal: A domesticated living creature or a wild creature previously captured.

Statute Summary: A person commits the crime of cruelty to animals if the person:
    Intentionally or knowingly tortures, maims, grossly overworks, fails to provide necessary food, water, care or shelter for an animal, abandons, transports in a cruel manner, inflicts burns, cuts, lacerations, or other injuries or pain to any animal by any method including blistering compounds to the legs or hooves of horses.

    A person commits the crime of aggravated cruelty to animals if the person:
    Intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal.

        Cruelty to animals/Aggravated cruelty.

            Class A Misdemeanor.

            Fine up to $2,500.

            11 months, 29 days to 30 years imprisonment.

        Subsequent offense of aggravated cruelty to animals.

           Class E Felony.

           Fine up to $3,000.

           Up to 6 years imprisonment.

    Forfeiture of Animal/Seizure: Both.

    Other Sentencing Provisions: Psychological counseling, cost of care, limited future animal ownership.

    Unique Provisions: Trier of fact can award up to $4,000 in non-economic damages to a person whose companion animal is killed or sustained injury.

    Exemption: Farming, research, veterinary care, protection of life and property.