2019 Tennessee Code
Title 39 - Criminal Offenses
Chapter 14 - Offenses Against Property
Part 2 - Animals
§ 39-14-217. Aggravated cruelty to livestock animals.

Universal Citation: TN Code § 39-14-217 (2019)
  • (a) As used in this section only, “livestock” means all equine as well as animals which are being raised primarily for use as food or fiber for human utilization or consumption, including, but not limited to, cattle, sheep, swine, and goats.

  • (b) Except as provided in subsections (d) and (e), a person commits aggravated cruelty to a livestock animal who, in a depraved and sadistic manner, intentionally engages in any of the conduct described in subdivisions (c)(1)-(12), the conduct results in serious bodily injury to the animal or the death of the animal, and is without justifiable or lawful purpose.

  • (c) The following conduct constitutes aggravated cruelty to livestock animals if accomplished in the manner described in subsection (b):

    • (1) Setting an animal on fire;

    • (2) Burning an animal with any hot object;

    • (3) Cutting or stabbing an animal with any object;

    • (4) Causing blunt force trauma to an animal;

    • (5) Securing an animal to a vehicle and dragging it;

    • (6) Blinding an animal;

    • (7) Applying acid or other caustic substance or chemical to any exposed area of an animal or forcing the animal to ingest the substance;

    • (8) Hanging a living animal;

    • (9) Skinning an animal while it is still alive;

    • (10) Administering electric shock to an animal;

    • (11) Drowning an animal; or

    • (12) Shooting an animal with a weapon.

  • (d) Subsections (b) and (c) shall not be construed to apply to, prohibit or interfere with the following:

    • (1) Any provision of title 70, involving fish and wildlife, or any hunting, trapping, or fishing activities lawful under such title;

    • (2) Activities or conduct that are prohibited by § 39-14-203; or

    • (3) Dispatching an animal in any manner not prohibited by this section.

  • (e) The following shall not be construed as aggravated cruelty to a livestock animal as defined in this section:

    • (1) Dispatching rabid, diseased, sick or injured livestock animals;

    • (2) Dispatching livestock animals posing a clear and immediate threat to human safety;

    • (3) Performing or conducting bona fide scientific tests, experiments or investigations within or for a bona fide research laboratory, facility or institution;

    • (4) Performing accepted veterinary medical practices or treatments;

    • (5) Engaging, with the consent of the owner of a livestock animal, in usual and customary practices which are accepted by colleges of agriculture or veterinary medicine with respect to that animal;

    • (6) Dispatching wild or abandoned livestock animals on a farm or residential real property; or

    • (7) Applying methods and equipment used to train livestock animals.

  • (f) In addition to the penalty imposed by subsection (j), the defendant may be held liable to:

    • (1) The owner of the livestock animal for damages; and

    • (2) The impounding officer or agency for all costs of impoundment from the time of seizure to the time of proper disposition of the case.

  • (g) In addition to the penalty imposed by subsection (j), the sentencing court may order the defendant to surrender custody and forfeit all livestock animals, and may award custody of the animals to the agency presenting the case. The court may prohibit the defendant from having custody of other livestock animals for any period of time the court determines to be reasonable, or impose any other reasonable restrictions on the person's custody of livestock animals as is necessary for the protection of the animals.

  • (h) In addition to the penalty imposed by subsection (j), the court may require the defendant to undergo psychological evaluation and counseling, the cost to be borne by the defendant. If the defendant is indigent, the court may, where practicable, direct the defendant to locate and enroll in a counseling or treatment program with an appropriate agency.

  • (i) This section does not preclude the court from entering any other order of disposition allowed under this chapter.

  • (j) Aggravated cruelty to a livestock animal is a Class E felony.

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Tennessee may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.