Humanely Speaking
HSWCTN Newsletter
In This Issue
Animal Cruelty Laws
Forever Home
Quick Links


The Humane Society of Washington County exists to improve the lives of animals in our county. We appreciate your interest in our newsletter and our organization.  
For further information or to lend your support. 

Please contact us at:              Or visit our office at:                    2101 W. Walnut St.
  423.926.8533                        Johnson City, TN 37604
  POB 4090
  Johnson City, TN 37602-4090
Would You Treat Your Dog Like That?
Legal Requirements to Provide Necessary Shelter
You've heard people say, I wouldn't treat my dog like that let alone my ... child/husband/mother-in-law. You fill in the blank. It is usually a criticism of perceived substandard treatment of another person. It begs the question, however, what is considered an appropriate standard of care for man's best friend.
You may be aware of an animal living tied to a clothesline, pole or stake, or simply living inside a fence without shelter from heat, rain or cold. Is this considered substandard treatment and is there anything that can be done to intervene?
Johnson City has an ordinance which requires animals be provided shelter and protection from weather.  The part that covers shelter:
10-105. Animal Care. (1) No owner or custodian shall fail to provide his/her animals with ...shelter and protection from the weather...
10-119. Penalties. Any person violating any provision of this chapter will be punished in accordance with the appropriate provisions of the charter and ordinances of the city and the statutes of Tennessee. Each separate day during which an offense occurs under this chapter shall constitute a separate chargeable offense.
Additionally, Tennessee statute T.C.A. 39-14-202 also makes it unlawful for an owner to fail to provide adequate shelter, "a person commits an offense who intentionally or knowingly fails unreasonably to provide necessary ...shelter for an animal in the person's custody."
These laws require sheltering of animals, however, for a person to be found guilty of animal cruelty for failing to provide shelter, it must be reported and proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In 2008, the Tennessee Attorney General recognized that it would be impossible to exactly define "necessary" shelter, because the necessity would depend on the "circumstances" relating to a particular animal's situation. (Tenn. Op. Atty. Gen. No. 08-65 (Tenn. A.G. 2008 WL 824236; March 24, 2008). This makes it harder to engage law enforcement, not because they don't care about the animals, but because the law is hard to enforce in all but the most severe cases.
Child protection laws tend to have specifically defined and more easily enforced abuse laws, which most would argue is a necessary protection for children.   Animals, however, are seen as property under the law. As such, "courts tend to view an animal's value as arising not from anything inherently significant to the animal but only from the animal's usefulness to humans." (Pretenders to the Throne: A First Amendment Analysis of the Property Status of Animals, 18 Fordhan Envtl. L. Rev. 185, Spring 2007).
Legislation to protect animals from cruelty will not be effective if it consciously or subconsciously balances the property rights of the animal owner against the animal's protection. To make laws enforceable, the legislature will need to define and promote intolerance of harm and mistreatment to living creatures over the sanctity of property ownership.            
The answer to the question "what can be done" to help that poor animal tied to a stake in all types of weather starts with education. Individuals must be educated to realize the harm and suffering that animals endure when not provided with adequate shelter.   Legislators must be educated to see animal protection as a duty borne out of the power to do so and to assign that duty a higher degree of importance than the protection of the property rights of the animal owner such that the interest in protecting animals prevails over the property interest of the animal owner.   Legislation must be written in a way that is not 'impossible' to define and enables law enforcement to determine when animals have been subjected to cruelty and the Attorney General to successfully prosecute those cases. You cannot legislate morality, but clearly defined and enforceable animal cruelty laws can encourage owners to think about the requirements of proper shelter and the consequences of not providing adequate care and shelter to their animals. 
Rick J. Bearfield, Esq.
Forever Home
Pistol the cat off the streets and in a forever home
Sometimes special packages come uniquely wrapped. That's true of Pistol formerly known as Piss Pants. When Pistol arrived with his mother and siblings, they were quickly identified as cats that had come from a difficult situation. Reportedly, an individual had moved them from their home to a sewer pipe where they had been fighting to survive. Piss Pants arrived in a trap. Immediately he started spitting at everyone who came in contact with him. However, he also started meowing, which feral cats aren't likely to do. He had a longing in his eyes for something more out of life. Through the hissing his fosters started petting him. Then the hissing stopped. He soon let his fosters pick him up and love on him. Through much hard work from a number of volunteers, Pistol morphed from Piss Pants and into a loving little guy. Pistol was recently adopted into a wonderful home with a little boy who adores him. We are so thankful for the opportunity to give cats like Pistol a new chance at life. For more information on our Cat Foster and Adoption Program, email
Cindy Chambers, HSWC Board Member
Spay and Neuter News
The HSWC spay/neuter program is in full swing for 2015. Since January, we have provided assistance to approximately 200 residents with the spay or neutering of their pets. This has proven to make a tremendous impact on the number of animals entering our local shelter. 

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 
Getting your Pet Spay or Neutered can: 
*Reduce the number of homeless pets killed 
*Improve your pets health 
*Reduce unruly behavior 
*Save on the cost of pet care 

In addition to helping our local residents, we have also provided funds for spay and neutering of shelter animals in the Washington County Animal Shelter, which reduces the adoption fee for those animals. 

Our hardworking volunteers also work with Operation Johnson Kitty on spay and neutering feral cats through their trap and release program. Once feral cats are humanely trapped and spay or neutered, they are returned to their colony or relocated to a HSWC approved barn to live out their lives. The owners of the farms are committed to the care of the cats residing on their property. 

We have exciting things happening with spay and neuter and will continue to work toward our goal of having a no kill community. 
Humane Society of Washington County
Spay Neuter Committee
Dear Friends,
     The last quarter has been an exciting and busy...very busy time for the Humane Society of Washington County.  On Saturday May 16, 2015 the we hosted our largest fund raiser, The Dogwood Cattails Ball.  This year's theme was Mardi Growl and it truly was a howlin' and growlin' good time.  Many of our attendees brought their animal friends and participated in the Dog and Cat Tail Fashion Show prancing their paws down the runway to the delight of the crowd. Please see our pictures on Facebook. 
     The Humane Hero award was renamed the Pam Roe Humane Hero award in honor of one of our founding members who passed away this year.  The award will be a lasting tribute to her vision and tireless work on behalf of the Humane Society and will honor others who represent her love and commitment to animals in our community.  As part of her memorial, Pam's husband, Congressman Phil Roe, and family have established a fund in Pam's honor and have pledged to match donations received in her name.  Please go to Pam Roe Humane Hero Fund to donate in Pam's honor. 
     In July, we moved into a permanent office space.  The building located at 2101 W. Walnut St. in Johnson City was graciously donated by Mr. and Mrs. Doug Lowrie.  The Loweries's are strong advocates of the Humane Society and without their support our "Forever Home" would not be possible.  Please visit us Monday through Friday 9am-5 pm.
     We value your continued support, as we continue to work collaborative with individuals, supporting organizations, and public agencies toward achieving a no kill community and making Washington County a true friend of Animals. 
Lucinda Grandy, President
Humane Society of Washington County